Chair Forward Bend Pose: Steps, Benefits, and Contraindications

Chair Forward Bend Pose – Sharp Muscle
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Updated: February 14, 2023

Chair Forward Bend Pose (known as Uttanasana on Chair) is a supported forward bend pose, in which you rest on the thighs instead of the desk.

  • Known as: Chair Forward Bend Pose, Uttanasana, Forward Bend Pose on Chair, Uttanasana on Chair, Seated Forward Fold Pose on Chair, Head Down on Chair Pose
  • Sanskrit name: उत्तानासन
  • IAST: uttānāsana
  • Pronunciation: ut-taa-naa-sun-uh
  • Level: Beginner
  • Type: Forward bend, inversion
  • Total time: 30 seconds to 1 minute
  • Drishti: Directed towards the toes or towards a specific point on the ground
  • Focus: Upper body, entire spine
  • Chakra: Muladhara (Root) Chakra, Svadhisthana (Sacral) Chakra, Muladhara (Root) Chakra
  • Indications: Hamstrings, stress and tension, mind, digestion, posture and balance, energizing the body
  • Counter poses: Chair Backbend, Seated Twist, Seated Cat-Cow, Chair Pigeon Pose
  • Preparatory poses: Seated Forward Fold, Mountain Pose, Chair Warrior I, Chair Low Lunge
  • Follow-up poses: Chair Pigeon Pose, Chair Twist, Chair Shoulder Opener, Chair Savasana
  • Contraindications: Low blood pressure, spinal injuries, pregnant women (especially in the later stages of pregnancy), glaucoma or a detached retina, osteoporosis or a history of fractures, recent surgery or injury to the back, hips, knees, or ankles

Chair yoga is a different form of yoga practice that can be done while sitting on chairs. All you need for this is yourself and a chair, preferably a chair without wheels. If the chair has wheels, make sure they lock into place.

Chair yoga is one of the best exercises for people suffering from conditions like chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Also, beneficial for those who are over a certain age and have trouble doing traditional yoga.

For those of you who sit for long periods of time, your lower back, hip, and thigh muscles can become tight. This yoga pose can target all those areas!

Benefits of Chair Forward Bend Pose

Practicing this yoga pose can be an easy and quick way to relieve tension in your upper body.

Chair Forward Bend Pose offers the dual benefit of Forward Bend Pose and Mild Inversion.

The Chair Forward Bend Pose provides the same benefits as the practice of Uttanasana (Forward Bend Pose), but the intensity of the stretch on the hamstrings and lower back is less. However, the physical and mental benefits of this yoga posture are listed below:

  1. Physical Benefits:
    • Opens, release the muscle tightness and stiffness of the lower back, shoulders, neck, and hips
    • Stretches the lower back and entire spine
    • Relieves tension in the shoulders
    • Reduce backaches
    • Relief of the tailbone irritation
    • Releases the unwanted accumulated stress and tension of the nerves and joints
  2. Mental Benefits:
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Step-by-step Chair Forward Bend Pose

  1. Select a stable chair that doesn’t roll over, and keep it away from the desk.
  2. Sit near the edge of the chair seat, with your feet firmly on the floor and about 6 to 10 inches (25.4 cm) apart.
  3. Slowly lean forward until the chest touches the thighs.
  4. Let the head hang down naturally. Allow the arms to hang by the sides. Close the eyes.
  5. Breathe calmly and let gravity stretch the back. Feel all the tension in the shoulders go away. Rest in this posture for 2 minutes.
  6. To come up, place the hands on the sides of the seat of the chair, and as you inhale, press down and lift the torso. Once standing upright, take 2 slow breaths before returning to the day’s activities.

Counter pose

These counterposes are general and may vary depending on the individual’s level of practice and physical and mental health. The Chair Forward Bend Pose (Uttanasana) can be followed by the following counterposes, also done with a chair:

  1. Chair Backbend: After forward folding, it can be helpful to do a gentle backbend to stretch and counterbalance the spine. To do this pose, sit on the chair with your feet planted firmly on the ground and your hands resting on your knees. Inhale and lift your chest up towards the ceiling, arching your back gently. Hold for a few breaths, then exhale and release.
  2. Seated Twist: Twisting poses can help to release tension in the spine and improve digestion. To do this pose, sit sideways on the chair with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Inhale and lengthen your spine, then exhale and twist to the right, placing your left hand on the outside of your right thigh and your right hand on the back of the chair. Hold for a few breaths, then release and repeat on the other side.
  3. Seated Cat-Cow: This gentle flow can help to stretch and mobilize the spine. Sit on the chair with your feet planted firmly on the ground and your hands resting on your knees. Inhale and arch your back, lifting your chest and looking up towards the ceiling (Cow pose). Exhale and round your spine, tucking your chin to your chest and bringing your navel towards your spine (Cat pose). Repeat for several breaths.
  4. Chair Pigeon Pose: This pose can help to stretch the hips and relieve tension in the lower body. Sit on the chair with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Cross your right ankle over your left knee, flexing your right foot to protect your knee. Slowly lean forward, keeping your spine straight and your chest lifted. Hold for a few breaths, then release and repeat on the other side.
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Preparatory pose

The preparatory poses are general and may vary depending on the individual’s level of practice and physical and mental health. Here are some preparatory poses that can be done with a chair to help prepare the body for the Chair Forward Bend Pose (Uttanasana):

  1. Seated Forward Fold: This pose can help to stretch the hamstrings and prepare the body for the deeper forward fold of Uttanasana. Sit on the chair with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Inhale and lengthen your spine, then exhale and fold forward, bringing your chest towards your thighs and reaching for your feet or ankles. Hold for a few breaths, then release.
  2. Mountain Pose: This foundational pose can help to improve posture and balance, and to center the body and mind. Stand behind the chair with your feet hip-distance apart and your hands resting lightly on the back of the chair. Inhale and lengthen your spine, then exhale and ground your feet into the floor, engaging your leg muscles and drawing your navel towards your spine. Hold for a few breaths, then release.
  3. Chair Warrior I: This pose can help to stretch and strengthen the legs and improve balance. Stand behind the chair with your feet hip-distance apart and your hands resting lightly on the back of the chair. Step your right foot back and turn it out to a 45-degree angle. Inhale and lift your arms up towards the ceiling, bringing your gaze up towards your hands. Hold for a few breaths, then release and repeat on the other side.
  4. Chair Low Lunge: This pose can help to stretch and strengthen the legs and hips. Stand behind the chair with your feet hip-distance apart and your hands resting lightly on the back of the chair. Step your right foot back and place it on the seat of the chair. Inhale and lengthen your spine, then exhale and bend your left knee, lowering your hips towards the ground. Hold for a few breaths, then release and repeat on the other side.

Follow-up pose

The follow-up poses are general and may vary depending on the individual’s level of practice and physical and mental health.

Here are some follow-up poses that can be done with a chair after practicing the Chair Forward Bend Pose (Uttanasana):

  1. Chair Pigeon Pose: This pose can help to stretch the hips and relieve tension in the lower body. Sit on the chair with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Cross your right ankle over your left knee, flexing your right foot to protect your knee. Slowly lean forward, keeping your spine straight and your chest lifted. Hold for a few breaths, then release and repeat on the other side.
  2. Chair Twist: This pose can help to improve digestion and release tension in the spine. Sit on the chair with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Inhale and lengthen your spine, then exhale and twist to the right, placing your left hand on the outside of your right thigh and your right hand on the back of the chair. Hold for a few breaths, then release and repeat on the other side.
  3. Chair Shoulder Opener: This pose can help to stretch and release tension in the shoulders and upper back. Sit on the chair with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Interlace your fingers behind your back, then gently lift your hands away from your body, keeping your chest lifted and your shoulders relaxed. Hold for a few breaths, then release.
  4. Chair Savasana: This pose can help to promote relaxation and release tension in the body and mind. Sit on the chair with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Lean back in the chair and place a cushion or blanket behind your head for support. Close your eyes and breathe deeply, allowing your body to relax and release any tension.
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Precautions and contraindications

The general practice of forward bend should be avoided for several reasons, and the same rule applies with chair Forward Bend Pose (Seated Forward Fold Pose on Chair).

Some precautions and contraindications should be taken for this yoga pose:

  • The practice of this yoga should be avoided if you are taking medicines for blood pressure and find it a great challenge to breathe in the pose.
  • While in general a forward fold is good for IBS, care must be taken to avoid further irritation of the gut when practicing this pose. Having a cushion to support the stomach is an excellent alternative to the pose.
  • Avoid practicing this yoga pose if you have hiatal hernia, retinal problems, eye pressure or sinus infection.
  • Proceed with great caution if you have been diagnosed with disc disease. If you have any questions about the suitability of this pose for you, consult your healthcare professional.
  • Avoid practicing this yoga pose if you are more than three months pregnant. Because it compresses the abdomen and pelvis, causing some discomfort during practice.

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