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Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, also known as upward-facing dog pose, is a foundational backbend posture commonly practiced in yoga. It strengthens the arms,...
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Urdhva hastasana is a standing yoga pose that involves raising the arms overhead with palms facing inward. It is often used as a starting or transitional pose in a yoga practice, but also provides energy after long periods of sitting.
Urdhva Hastasana, commonly called Palm Tree Pose, is a standing yoga posture that involves stretching the arms straight toward the sky. It gets its name from the Sanskrit words, urdhva, meaning upward, hasta , meaning hand, and asana, meaning posture. It begins with the feet together and the knees straight and can be done with the palms touching, giving it the alternate names of the Upward Salute Pose and Raised Hands Pose. If an individual's shoulder flexibility is limited, they can keep their arms parallel with their hands shoulder-width apart.
Urdhva Hastasana is a variation of the foundation pose, Mountain Pose (Tadasana), as both involve raising the arms upwards and putting the body in a straight line. This pose is the second and second-to-last position in Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutations, a common sequence of yoga postures.
The benefits of Urdhva Hastasana are similar to those for mountain pose and other standing yoga poses.
While Urdhva Hastasana is generally considered a safe and beneficial yoga pose, there are some contraindications to be aware of. Individuals with the following conditions should avoid or modify this pose:
It is important to always listen to the body and modify or avoid any poses that do not feel safe or comfortable. Practitioners should consult with a healthcare provider or a qualified yoga teacher if they have any concerns or questions about practicing yoga.
To practice Urdhva Hastasana, one should begin by standing with feet together and knee caps straight. If limited shoulder flexibility is an issue, practitioners should separate the arms and focus on lifting the shoulders and reaching upwards while keeping the elbows straight and arms parallel. Another option is to practice one arm at a time by holding it raised for five counts or longer, resting it, then switching to the other arm. Repeat this sequence three times for each arm and then reach with both arms.
Next, raise the arms overhead with the hands shoulder-distance apart and palms facing each other. The gaze can be lifted to the hands or kept straight ahead. Practitioners should hold the pose for several breaths, then release the arms down to the sides of the body. Urdhva Hastasana can also be incorporated into Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutation, as the second or second to last position.
To move into Urdhva Hastasana, practitioners can start in the tadasana mountain pose (one of the most relevant preparatory poses) with their arms by their sides. If using Urdhva Hastasana as part of a Surya Namaskara, or sun salutation, raise your arms to the side and then up, touching your hands above the body's center line. They can then make the next move, generally bending forwards and feeling their hands to their legs or the floor if possible.
Keeping the knees straight and the feet firmly planted on the ground throughout the pose is essential. Practitioners with limited shoulder flexibility can keep their arms parallel with their hands shoulder-width apart. To deepen the stretch, one can try interlacing their fingers and turning their palms to face up towards the sky.
Option: To deepen the stretch, practitioners can try interlacing your fingers and turning your palms to face up towards the sky.
To perform the arms raise, the practitioner should raise their arms while keeping their chin parallel and gaze upwards and forwards. Alternatively, they can look up as they lift their arms, gazing upwards. The practitioner can pull their head up and back to ensure a long neck, naturally lifting their chest. Then, they can smoothly lift their shoulder blades and arms.
To improve rib cage posture in Urdhva Hastasana, the practitioner can focus on creating a smooth backbend in their thoracic spine when lifting their chest. To start, they should stand tall in one line and make a downward pull on the backs of their ribs to lift the front ribs, ensuring a continuous bend from the base of their thoracic spine to the top.
If the practitioner has difficulty feeling their thoracic spine, they can concentrate on their neck posture by pulling their ears back and up while standing upright with arms down, keeping the crown of their head pointing up or slightly forward. They should focus on the length of the back of their neck and adjust their head position accordingly.
Next, the practitioner can focus on the lower front ribs, which are on either side of the ribcage arch. They should pull the ribs inward towards each other and hold this sensation while lifting their arms and maintaining posture. The practitioner may feel muscular tension at the back of the ribcage, but they should try to keep this tension to enhance their thoracic spine posture in Urdhva Hastasana. Practitioners will not get a good stretch if their arms are in a V shape, and they should try to get them as close to their ears as possible.
To stay balanced in Urdhva Hastasana, the practitioner should start by standing with their feet together and practice mountain pose. They can place their big toes touching and heels slightly apart or have their heels and big toes touching. The practitioner should adjust their foot position by rotating slightly inward or outward for comfortable knees and hips.
When standing with feet together, the practitioner has a smaller base of support compared to standing with feet hip-distance or shoulder-width apart. Lifting their arms overhead increases their center of gravity, making it easier to lose balance. Shift the weight forward, press down with the toes, engage the core muscles, and root down through the sit bones. Bringing weight into all four corners or outside edges of the feet will also make it easier to balance.
Alternatively, the practitioner can shift their weight slightly forward and actively press down with their toes. Doing so may require rotating their shins relative to their feet. They will find pressing down their outer toes with greater external rotation and lifting their inner arches easier. Internally rotating will help them press their big toe down and flatten their inner arches.
When done correctly, Urdhva Hastasana can provide a full body stretch. The practitioner lifts their arms and reaches towards the sky, engaging their shoulders. The tops of the shoulders are brought inward, and the inner elbows are straightened to stretch the upper arms, even if the hands don't touch.
To lengthen the neck, draw the earlobes back and up. Lift and expand the ribcage in all directions to stretch the spaces between the ribs and waist - front, sides, and back. The tailbone is gently dropped to open the back of the lumbar spine.
The practitioner can generate a body stretch in their inner thighs by reaching their knees away from their hip joints. They can adjust the stretch by rotating their knees inward or outward. They can spread their toes and fingers to extend the stretching sensation from the tips of their toes to their lower legs and beyond. To stretch the lower legs, rotate the shins outward and lift the inner arches. Simultaneously, the inner forefoot or base of the big toe is pulled back and down.
Counter poses will help to balance the effects of holding Urdhva Hastasana for extended periods. One such pose is Prasarita Padottanasana C position, also known as Dwikonasana. The practitioner can clasp their hands behind their back and lift their arms, stretching the shoulders.
Another option is to reach the arms back without clasping the hands, strengthening and stretching the shoulders. It is important to practice both arm positions, with and without the hands clasped, to maintain balance in the body.
After Urdhva Hastasana, there are several more advanced poses that a practitioner can attempt, depending on their level of experience and flexibility. Here are a few examples: