How to Do Half Forward Bend or Ardha Uttanasana

How to Do Half Forward Bend - Ardha Uttanasana
Ann Pizer
  • Also Known As: Flat back
  • Type of Pose: Standing, forward bend
  • Benefits: Stretches the hamstrings, encourages good spinal alignment.

Flat back is a pose that doesn't often stand on its own. It's usually done as part of a sun salutation sequence as a transition between uttanasana and chaturanga dandasana. But there are a few good reasons why you shouldn't give this pose short shrift.

First, moving between flat back and full forward fold is a great way to deepen your uttanasana. Some teachers do take the time to work on this but if they don't you can always try it at home. On your inhalations, come up to a flat back with the spine long. On your exhales, forward fold deeply over your legs. Move back and forth on the breath (hey, it's a vinyasa!) for five to ten breaths.

Second, if you are working on jumping back to chaturanga as part of your sun salutation, ardha uttanasana becomes pretty important. It sets your upper body in the correct position for a seamless flow. In order for this to work, your hands need to be flat on the ground. Bend your knees as much as necessary to make this happen before you attempt to jump back. 


  1. From uttanasana, come up onto your fingertips, raise your head, draw your shoulders back, and bring your spine flat.
  2. Avoid locking the knees. Microbend them instead.
  3. If you are mid-sun salutation, the next step is to step back to a lunge or flatten the palms to the floor and jump back to chaturanga.

Beginners' Tips

  • Because getting the spine flat is the most important aspect of this pose, you may need to bring your hands to your shins or thighs instead of the floor to remove the curve from your back. It's best to avoid placing the hands directly on the knees as this may put too much pressure on the joint.
  • You may also use blocks on the floor under your hands if you prefer.

Advanced Tips

Whether you are jumping or stepping back, try to keep the position of your shoulders and spine the same as they were in flat back instead of rounding your back as you move back. This makes the transition more about core strength as well.

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