Yoga 2.0: Align and Refine Your Uttanasana With the Assistance of Props

0 Uttanasana practiced at the wall for helpful feedback.

In a “traditional” Standing Forward Bend Pose (Uttanasana), one of the main aspects is that the torso hinge happens more in the hip joints and less in the spine. Traditionally, this pose is practiced with an elongated spine so that the bias can be primarily on the hamstrings and the entire posterior chain to lengthen the backside of the body.

To find this alignment in Uttanasana, it can be really helpful to introduce props into your practice for support but also for tactile feedback and resistance to be able to feel the traditional alignment internally without compensating in other areas.

Align and Refine Your Uttanasana With This Propped Wall Variation to Find a More “Traditional” Alignment in the Pose

Uttanasana and forward bends using a chair for assistance.

For this variation, you’ll need some clear wall space (to help find the verticality in your legs), a chair (to hold onto for support and to help you lengthen your spine), and two yoga blocks (if you’d like to fold deeper).

  1. Start with your back to the wall and have a chair in front of you within arm’s reach.
  2. Place your heels close to or directly in contact with the wall behind you. Your feet can either be together or roughly hip-distance apart—whichever version feels better in your body.
  3. Rest your hands on the seat of the chair in front of you so that you’re in a Half Forward Bend Pose (Ardha Uttanasana) or almost a modification of Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana) to begin.
  4. Lift your heels off the floor and “walk” your sitting bones up the wall behind you. Slowly release your heels to the floor so the wall “catches” your sitting bones and anchors them against the wall. This action should create a subtle arch in your lower back to find more of a neutral position for your lumbar spine.
  5. Keep your sitting bones in contact with the wall as you lengthen your back body and stretch the crown of your head forward toward the chair in front of you.
  6. Help yourself develop proprioception by oscillating your lower back between flexion and extension. Hold onto the seat of the chair with your hands and keep your sitting bones pressed against the wall. As you inhale, arch your lumbar spine even more as your belly releases toward the floor. As you exhale, hug your navel toward your spine and round into your lower back. Continue to oscillate back and forth for about five deep breaths.
  7. Once you’re aware of the positioning of extremes in your lower back, reposition your sitting bones on the wall by lifting and lowering your heels, stretch your spine forward, allowing for a subtle, natural arch in your lower back, and find more length across your whole back body.Uttanasana and Forward Bend variation focusing on the forearms.
  8. You have the option to stay as you are or to lower your forearms down on the seat of the chair while maintaining the same length in your back body.
  9. You have the option to stay as you are or rise back up onto your palms and stretch the chair forward in front of you. It should be within an arm’s reach forward of you, but reaching for it creates even more length across your back body.
  10. You can choose to stay as you are or release your hands onto yoga blocks at their highest height, setting beneath your shoulders. Keep your sitting bones in contact with the wall behind you and strive to maintain the sensation of the arch in your lumbar spine.
  11. Again, you can stay as you are, lower the height of your blocks to whatever setting feels appropriate, or remove the blocks completely and release your fingertips or palms to the floor—all the while maintaining the contact of your sitting bones with the wall behind you and the sensation of the arch in your lower back so you lengthen across your whole spine as you fold.Uttanasana with the wall and blocks to assist the Pose.
  12. To release, unwind the same way you came in, softly bending into your knees to walk your body away from the wall and rise.

Uttanasana Tutorial Video:  Practiced at the Wall with Props


Find Traditional Alignment in Your Uttanasana and a Deep Stretch Through Your Hamstrings in This Variation of Standing Forward Fold at the Wall

This traditional alignment of Uttanasana will help you find a hip hinge in your Standing Forward Bend Pose that will also translate to all other forward bends in your yoga practice. The feedback from the wall helps you to maintain the alignment of your hips even as you fold further into the shape.

So play around with this variation and see how it feels. Be aware that this version will likely intensify the sensation of stretch in your hamstrings since your hips are “locked in” by the presence of the wall, so move slowly and mindfully and utilize your props to find the best variation for your body.

Have fun with your experimentation, and notice how the use of props and the feedback from the wall might transform the way you practice Uttanasana even when you don’t have the props there for feedback.

Leah Sugerman, E-RYT 500, YACEP, yoga writer

Leah Sugerman is a yoga teacher, writer, and passionate world traveler. An eternally grateful student, she has trained in countless schools and traditions of the practice. She teaches a fusion of the styles she has studied with a strong emphasis on breath, alignment, and anatomical integrity. Leah teaches workshops, retreats, and trainings, both internationally and online. For more information, visit

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