Half Forward Fold – Ardha Uttanasana is a great posture to stretch the hamstrings while strengthening the core. This posture is practiced repeatedly in Vinyasa Flow and Ashtanga classes. It is important to ensure the belly is engaged when practicing this posture as not doing so can cause injury to the lower back.
Start in Uttanasana (Forward Fold) with big toes together & heels slightly apart. If you have lower back issues keep feet hips distance apart with the outer edges of the feet parallel to one another.
*Modifications: You may bend the knees as needed for lower back issues or tight hamstrings.
Keep even distribution of weight in your feet. Notice if there is the tendency of the weight going back towards your heels. If so draw the shin forward.
Inhale use the strength of your core (not your lower back!) lift the torso half way up (parallel with the ground). Keep the engagement of the belly throughout the pose. Fingertips can stay on the earth, blocks or to your shins.
Lengthen the spine. Sits bones lengthen back as the crown of the head lengthens forward. Make sure the neck is in line with the rest of your spine.
To release take an exhale and hinge from the hips to come back to a forward fold.
Modification and Tips:
For Beginners or those with tight hips or hamstrings you can try using blocks with this pose. With Half Forward Fold the key is to strive for a long and straight spine. Keep the core engaged to protect the lower back and prevent arching. You could always bend your knees to your level of comfort. There is also a tendency to become passive in this pose. Maintain active legs and core and keep energetically reaching through the crown of your head.