Spring has arrived early in Seattle. Everywhere, there are stems, trees and shrubs with buds in various stages of opening. Outside of my house, I have watched as the nearby magnolia awakens, first vibrant folds of green appeared on the branches, only to give rise to supple buds holding all of their promise tucked within; then, slowly at first, each bud extends itself, petal by petal, reaching out from darkness, until it is a radiant blossom.
There is no time like spring. And no other time where it is more appropriate to reach out and extend ourself.
Practicing standing forward fold, or uttanansa, can allow us to embody the spring season. With feet planted firmly into the earth, first we bow forward, ripening in the peaceful darkness of our inner selves. And then, we rise up again with strength and a vibrant heart.
1 – Begin standing on your mat in tadasana, or mountain pose, with feet hip-width distance apart and a long, neutral spine
2 – Inhale as you place your hands on your hips, fingers sliding just below the bones that protrude in front to feel the place where you will hinge as you bend forward
3 – With a bend in your knees, exhale, releasing your hands down and hinging from the place you just had your fingers. Allow your spine to spill out of your pelvis and grow long as you straighten your knees and your head moves toward the mat
4 – As your breathe here, think of raising your sitz bones toward the ceiling; feel your spine and your front body lengthening
5 – Place your hands on the mat or clasp elbows and gently rock front and back and/or side to side. As your body feels warmer and more comfortable, perhaps you will straighten your legs more and fold a little deeper
6 – Stay in the pose for 5-10 breaths
7 – When you are ready to rise, bend the knees (a little to make it more challenging and a lot to make it less so), recommit to your foundation, making the legs strong, and, with a strong core and a straight spine, let the heart and your breath lead you back to standing