Stand tall in Tadasana and bring hands to hips. On the inhale, lengthen upward through the spine, keeping the shoulders relaxed down. On the exhale, place the hands on the hips and start to fold forward over the thighs. Use the hands on the hips to gently coax them forward and imagine the pelvis is a bowl spilling forward. Keep the spine straight and back flat as you lengthen down. Release the arms down toward the floor.
Optional: Bend the knees deeply when the hamstrings feel tight. Let the upper body drape over the lower body, resting the chest on bent legs.
If your hamstrings allow straight legs while maintaining a flat back, let the upper body and arms hang down.
Release tension in the head and neck letting it dangle down toward the floor and gaze at the legs. Breathe deeply for a few breaths, imagining tension rolling off the body. Use an inhale to rise back up to standing.
Uttanasana and all forward folds tend to relieve tension and anxiety. The knees-bent version of this pose is especially helpful for relieving stress and calming anxiety because the upper body on the legs allows for greater awareness of the breath. As you inhale and exhale in this position, and feel the belly expanding and contracting on the legs, it becomes easier to notice how shallow or deep the breath is, and the concentration of breath moving into the chest versus into the lower abdomen. Move towards the breath expanding the lower abdominal area for maximum effect.
Stay tuned for next week's pose, Utkatasana, or chair pose.