YOGA POSE OF THE MONTH: UTTANASANA
UTTANASANA YOGA POSE
Greg Long once said that anyone who is serious about big wave surfing and doesn’t do yoga, is fooling themselves. The reality is, that the logic applies to surfing of any type. Not only does yoga keep us limber and prevent injuries, it also increases core strength and teaches us to breathe properly. These are two fundamental building blocks of good athletics.
To keep us surfing and living at our full potential, local yoga teacher and life-long surfer Kilty Inafuku will lead us through a yoga pose of the month. This month’s pose is intended to help us wake up with ease and prepare you for the day. This move will energize you as you head out for an early surf session, before the sun comes up and the crowds clog the lineups.
Uttanasana is one of the foundational asanas (poses) in yoga. It’s a forward bend that serves as a stable, supported “inversion.” While you are not actually standing on your hands or shoulders (as in some of yoga’s inversions) you still get the benefit of reversing gravity. With your head below your heart you will enjoy a rush of energy to your head that will energize you and prepare you for the day.
To practice uttanasana, ideally start with an empty stomach and bowels. Stand with your feet about hips width apart and knees slightly bent. Fold forward from the hips and allow your hands to rest on the ground, shins or whatever allows you to be the most comfortable. If you have a block available, you can position it under your hands for a little added support. Blocks basically brings the ground closer to you. Keep your knees bent, especially if you have back problems or just feel tight in general. The more you straighten your legs the more intense this will feel in the hamstrings and backs of your legs. The posture should be a bend at your hips and not from a rounded lower back. Rounding your back could aggravate any existing issues.
As you settle into the pose, root into the ground through your feet. You can play with shifting your weight between heels and toes to feel the sensation of the pose. Allow your head to dangle, while the crown of your head is pulling toward the floor and your eyes look back between your legs.
To come out of the pose, keep your knees bent and bring your hands to your hips. Engage your core muscle as you rise back up to standing position, which is also known as tadasana. Try to maintain an elongated back on your way up to a standing position. If it feels good for you, repeat this pose a few times to start your day. You can even use it as a reset periodically throughout your day. It’s better than a cup of coffee!
Kilty Inafuku teaches yoga classes on the North Shore at the North Shore Yoga Co-Op and Paumalu Yoga, in Honolulu at Power Yoga Hawaii Piikoi and in Kailua at Yoga by the Sea. She also hosts and guest teaches at various yoga events on the island and leads retreats both in Hawaii and overseas. For more information visit www.kiltyyoga.com.
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