Uttanasana with head supported Level 1
Benefits: This variation of Uttanasana removes mental fatigue and cools and calms the brain and is the perfect way to prepare for Sirsasana. It can help ease a migraine or stress head-ache.
Uttanasana from Tadasana
Stand in TADASANA (Mountain Pose). Place your hands on your hips.
Draw your knees and thighs up and holding your legs firm, exhale and bend forward from the hips. Place the crown of your head on the support. If your head doesn’t quite reach without you having to bend your knees or pitch forward, then you will need to build up your support. If all that you need is a little more height, try placing a folded blanket on top of the block.
Place your fingertips on the floor beside your feet. Raise your shoulders away from the floor. If your hands do not yet reach the floor, place your hands on bricks.
To release further forward, stamp your heels down, press your fingertips down and continue to lift your thighs. 'Comb' your quadriceps up from the knees to the top of the thighs. Reach your sitting bones to the heels. Allow your breath to become quiet and even. Hold for 20–30 seconds to start with building up to 1-2 mins.
With a chair: If tight hamstrings are preventing your head from reaching 1½ bricks, you will need more height: Place a chair on your mat, facing in toward the wall. Lean against a wall and walk your feet 45-50cm/1½ feet away from the wall. Reach forward and place your forehead on the chair. If your head does not reach the chair, raise the height of the seat: add a blanket, or place a bolster across it.
Note: If, with your legs straight, your head still does not come into contact with the support, work toward the final pose this way: keep your hips resting against the wall reach your hands forward, palms facing in. Place your outer wrist bones on the top of the chair back. Extend out through your fingertips and lock your elbows. Draw the upper arm muscles back toward your shoulders.
Those with back injuries should not practice the final pose with the head down. Rather work to create ease in the spine and strength in the legs by practicing this pose with the head up and your hands on the chair or bricks.