Ragdoll Pose, Baddha Hasta Uttanasana, (BAH-dah hah-stah OOT-tan-AHS-anna)
Baddha (bound) + hasta (hand) + ut (intense) + tan ( stretch)+ asana (pose)
Also Known as: Dangling Pose
Let everything go and surrender to earth in this nourishing forward fold.
Ragdoll Pose Fundamentals
Ragdoll Pose is a more passive variation of the Standing Forward Fold. By clasping opposite elbows, you’re completely releasing your body and allowing gravity to do all the work.
For this reason, this asana is often done as a pause in between difficult yoga sequences of Vinyasa and Power yoga. The asana is also a part of the Yin Yoga school, where it is often called Dangling Pose.
The reason poses are called differently in Yin Yoga is to avoid confusion.
The pose looks exactly the same, but it’s performed under different rules. If you’re using it to relax in a dynamic class, you can hold it for just a bit or even sway side to side. But in a Yin class, you’ll want to be completely still for a while, at least 3 minutes.This changes the effect of the pose, but both variations will bring release to the back body. The dynamic version will work more on the muscles, and the static and passive yin variation will tap into the deeper tissues.
Regardless of the variation you’re practicing, this asana is a better alternative to the classic Standing Forward Bend whenever you want to feel a deeper release in the upper back than in the hamstrings. To amplify this effect, bend your knees and allow your back to round.
This relaxing posture will bring a sense of comfort and calm and you can do it even outside your yoga class.
A great time would be after a stressful day at work, especially if your work requires you to sit or stand without moving for long periods of time.
Energetically, Ragdoll Pose activates Root Chakra, bringing a sense of stability and grounding.
Ragdoll Pose Benefits
- Ragdoll Pose increases flexibility and reduces tightness in the hamstrings, calves, and most of all – the spine.
- When held for longer, it helps you to tap into the deeper tissues of the back body, which can help with pent-up tension and aching back.
- This asana stimulates the internal organs of the abdomen, which boosts digestion.
- Stimulates the organs of the reproductive system, which can help women with menstrual cramps (a fantastic asana to do during your period!).
- Activates the lower chakras, which brings a sense of stability and also releases any pent-up negative energy in the pelvis and hips.
- Releases insomnia and fatigue, and calms the mind.
How To Do Ragdoll Pose: Step-By-Step
How To Get There:
- Begin in Standing Forward Fold.
- From there, grab opposite elbows with your hands and release your head and chest towards the thighs as deep as you can.
- Then, try to reach the upper body down even more, as if you want to touch the floor with your elbow.
- Then completely release the upper body, head, neck, and shoulders and let them hang. Let gravity do all the work from here.
- During a dynamic yoga class, hold this asana for 5 to 8 breaths, and sway your shoulders side to side or move your head left and right if it feels good.
- During a yin yoga class, hold this pose still without moving for 3 minutes. Bend the knees and use props if needed (like a large cushion between the stomach and the thighs).
- To release, slowly come up. Keep your eyes closed for a bit, as the pose may cause dizziness.
Tips And Tricks:
- Although this pose stretches the entire back body, the focus is on the back and not the hamstrings. Therefore, you can bend your knees generously. This will allow your chest to connect to the thighs, and consequently, the back will relax more.
- You can use props to deepen the stretch – e.g. lean the back on a wall or step your toes on a folded blanket.
- In yin yoga, this pose is held for 3 minutes or more, but that can be too difficult. You can perform it in several shorter, one or two-minute sessions, and enter Garland Pose (Yogi Squat) between the reps.
- Swaying side to side and front to back can help you release tension and stabilize yourself in the pose – check how this movement changes the sensation in the feet. Find a place where your weight is centered between the balls of the feet and the heels.
Ragdoll Pose Variations:
Standing Forward Bend
Ragdoll Pose is a variation of Standing Forward Bend, so we could say the opposite is also true.
Standing Forward Bend is a better alternative for dynamic yoga stretching if you want to shift the focus onto your hamstrings.
For Standing Forward Bend, you will bend forward from Mountain Pose and place your hands on the floor next to your feet. You will also attempt to straighten the knees and stay active in the back – although you shouldn’t force it if it doesn’t work.
Twisting Standing Forward Bend
Depending on how you feel, you could perform this twisting version before or after Ragdoll Pose for an even deeper release in the upper back.
Begin in a Halfway Lift – bending down from a standing position, placing the hands on the floor or shins, and keeping the upper body parallel to the floor.
Then move one palm to the center between your feet. Slightly bend your knees and begin to open your other arm towards the sky and rotate the torso in that direction. Gaze towards the sky, and keep your hips squared.
Hold for a bit, move back to Halfway Lift, then repeat on the other side.
Ragdoll Pose Variation: Caterpillar Pose
If you have high blood pressure, any problems with dizziness or simply aren’t able to relax in this asana (common in Yin Yoga) replace it with Caterpillar Pose.
Caterpillar Pose is a Yin variation of a Seated Forward Bend.
Begin sitting on a folded blanket or a cushion, and stretch your legs in front of you. Fold forward, and allow your upper back to round, and your feet to relax. Place a pillow under your chest or belly for support if you’d like. Hold for 3 to 5 minutes.
Precautions & Contraindications:
Forcing it. Ragdoll is a simple pose, and the main mistake you can make is to make it difficult for yourself. The goal is to release – don’t force your knees or back straight, surrender to gravity and relax.
Since Ragdoll Pose is an inversion and is often held for longer periods of time, it may cause dizziness when you get back up. Be careful and maybe avoid it if you have high blood pressure, vertigo, or other balance issues. Avoid during pregnancy due to the pressure on the abdomen. Also, avoid if you have serious headaches or migraines.
For more in-depth asana resources, check out our free Yoga Pose Library. Here you’ll find complete guides to each and every yoga asana to deepen your yoga knowledge.
Each pose page features high-quality photos, anatomy insights, tips and tricks, pose instructions and queues, asana variations, and preparatory and counter poses.