The best and most useful asanas for your overall wellbeing are the ones you can easily integrate into your daily life, and into every stage of your life. That’s how you can truly make the physical practice of yoga a part of your day-to-day life and reap the fruits of a daily practice.
Here’s one of those kinds of asanas and my all time favourite:
A R D H A U T T A N A S A N A
One of the greatest benefits of this asana is beautifully explained in my Purna Yoga teacher training manual:”
After doing Ardha Uttanasana you will feel relief from the stresses of day-to-day life that build up in the heart and lungs.”
I can so feel that every time I practice this in the middle of a busy day. It gives me this AAAAAHHHHHH feeling when after doing the dishes, cooking, lifting and carrying kids or heavy groceries, I place my body in this position and stretch out all the tensions I feel in the body. It’s not only a physical relief but a mental one as well. This is a great position to exhale the business out of your system. Afterwards, you really feel realigned both physically and mentally.
With few small modifications Ardha Uttanasana is accessible to pregnant women and women who have recently given birth as well. This is a pose that every woman should include in her daily self-care repertoire because when done regularly it can prevent menstrual cramps. And to all the mother’s of small babies out there: this is THE pose to practice between feeding and taking care of your baby because it opens all those parts of the body that easily get tight from all the lifting, carrying, and hustling.
You don’t need any specific props; just a little bit of empty wall space, bench, table, or a big branch at the right hight where to place your hands on.
After doing most of my asana practice either lying down or sitting for three weeks due to my ankle injury, this was the first standing pose that was accessible to me. My ankle doesn’t yet allow putting all my body weight on it or moving it laterally. In ardha Uttanasana the weight of my body is equally supported by both of my legs. In this pose I can ground through the both of my feet, strengthen the quadriceps, and safely stretch the back of my legs.
I still limp when walking which creates a lot of tension in the hips and lower back and negatively affects on my posture. In Ardha Uttanasana I can free the lower back through the traction and stretching of the hamstrings.
Almost not a day go by without me practicing this asana. I do it pretty much every time after spending a lot of time in the kitchen, when traveling, during walks in the nature, at the end of a run or a whenever I feel like my body and mind are in the need of a good stretch & release.
Here are the main actions of the pose:
If your hands are against a wall, then push the hands forward like you would try to make the wall fall down and at the same time move the sitting bones away from the hands.
If you are pregnant, make sure your legs are wide enough so that here is no pressure on the belly. In the postnatal period keep the feet hip width apart.
Ardha uttanasana opens the hamstrings, stretches the sides of your waist and rib cage, opens the armpits, chest, and shoulders, and reduces heart rate. It can prevent stomach pain and cramps during menstruation. I would say that’s a pretty impressive list of benefits for such a simple and accessible yoga asana. Go ahead and try this out. I can guarantee you will love it!