Uttanasana for kidney health and stress reduction
Uttanasana is a relaxing, if slightly challenging yogasana for a beginner. This mobilizes the lower limbs, improves working of the kidneys, decreases pain in menstrual cramps, and reduces overall stress in body and mind.
This asana rejuvenates the spine in totality. It improves flexibility, and promotes mental calm. Not recommended for those with spinal injury, though.
For those familiar with Tadasana or the palm tree pose, Uttanasana is just an opposite yogasana. Whereas Tadasana stretches the spine in an upward direction, Uttanasana flexes it towards gravity, in the process, mobilizing stagnant energy of the lower limbs and lower abdomen as well.
Progressive reach in this yogasana gives progressive benefits
Stand in Tadasana: keeping the knees unbending, hands raised high overhead, palms facing outwards, stretching body upwards while keeping feet together and firmly grounded. Exhale to bend forward slowly. Exhaling at this point assists in the bending, therefore recommended. For a beginner, bending may be minimal. Do not overstretch your limit. Allow for repetitions to increase flexibility slowly.
The primary principle of Yogasanas as exercise is based on 'Balardha' in Sanskrit, meaning, 'use only half of available power.' Therefore, it is perfectly ok to go slow yet steady with yogasanas.
On bending forward, the idea is to get the forefingers to touch the ground first, while keeping the knees tight. Then make the palms touch the ground face down, behind the heels. This is the ideal, take your time in reaching it, but regular practice works wonders in a fortnight or less. It is a given that this yogasana is simpler to accomplish for those who don't have belly fat. Yet, any increase in reach of the hands towards gravity while keeping the knees unbending goes a long way to give benefits.
On exhaling and bending forward with hands touching ground, try to keep your head up. Move the hips a little forward and straighten the legs without bending the knees. Hold the position for a minute if possible. A couple of deep breaths would be good here.
After the two deep breaths, exhale. Simultaneously bring your torso closer to the head, and rest your head on unbending knees. Take a few deep breaths for a minute while resting the head on the knees.
Return to base:
Inhale and chin up, without moving knees or hands. Take a couple of deep breaths. Inhale and move palms from ground. Return slowly to starting position, Tadasana.