One of my favorite classes of the week is chair yoga at the Pottstown Senior Center. I enjoy finding modifications of yoga poses on the chair making it accessible to those with limited mobility. The feedback from the group is how happy they are that they don’t have to get up and down off of the floor. Most of the class is seated but we do get up and stand behind the chair using the chair for support and balance.
While standing in uttanasana, standing forward bend, with the chair for support one of the regulars shared a story about doing a forward bend while in the Navy in 1949. He said he was trying to touch his toes and his officer came up behind him, smacked him on the back and pushed him down so he touched the floor. He shared that story with a smile and told it like it was yesterday. This is not the way I would encourage deepening in the pose, but it gives me a smile to think of John so many years ago as a young man in the Navy trying to touch his toes.
Uttanasana is one of my favorite poses. Forward bends teach patience, surrender and stillness, something I can use in my life everyday. Forward bends are both soothing and challenging. The challenge comes because hamstrings and back muscles are often tight. Forward bends should be done slowly and sensitively while using the breath to soften, surrender and lengthen. This is not exactly how John experienced his first forward bend in the Navy all those years ago!
Uttanasana calms the brain, stretches the hamstrings, calves, hips and relieves the symptoms of menopause. A mantra I often repeat while in Standing Forward Bend “I am free to let go at this moment” With the head hanging forward I try to allow all thoughts to flow through the crown and release. Find some time each day to give in and listen and enjoy the quieting and settling of Uttanasana.