HOW TO: Rag Doll Pose/Forward Fold Variation (Uttanasana II)

Ragdoll Pose

This variation of a Standing Forward Bend is a gentle pose to relax the body and mind and it also actively stretches the entire back body.  I incorporate this pose into almost all of my yoga classes because it’s just so good and I think it’s underrated.  Sometimes in a forward fold, the focus can be on touching your toes or touching the mat and this defeats the purpose of practicing a pose.  If you focus on what the pose should look like or looking like your neighbor, you forget to focus on how the pose should feel.  By clasping the hands around the elbows you allow your body to just fall into place and instead of pushing your hands to the floor, you allow gravity to do the work of pulling your upper body down and stretching the backs of the legs.  Unlike a standard forward fold, the clasping of the elbows helps to extend the stretch into the upper back, helping to relieve back back and correct posture.

Instructions:
Begin standing on your yoga mat in Mountain Pose with your feet hip distance apart.

Take a deep inhale and on your exhale fold forward from your hips, letting your hands fall towards the mat.

Bend your knees as deeply as you need too.

Grab opposite elbows with your hands and relax your head and neck so they hang heavy toward the mat.

Feel free to gently sway from the side to side.

Remain in this pose as long as is comfortable.

To come out of the pose, first release the hands from the elbows and then slowly roll back up to Mountain Pose.

Benefits:
Stretches the hamstrings, calves, and hips

Releases tension along the spine, lower and upper back, and neck

Can help relieve headaches

Energizes the mind and helps relieve fatigue

Opens the upper back and shoulders

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