What is Urdhva Hastasana?
It is literally translated to “Raise Hands Pose” aka “Upward Salute”. At time, it can be called Talasana (Palm Tree Pose) or Utthita Hasta in Tadasana (Mountain Pose with Arms).
To me, it is Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with both arms raise to the ceiling and palms together. It may sound like a simple pose but have you thought of the muscles you are engaging and how it benefits your well-being.
Benefit of Urdhva Hastasana
- Reduces fatigue, anxiety and stress
- Relieves back pain and sciatica
- Realigns of posture when standing
- Improves digestion and better bowel movement by compressing your digestive tract during stretching
- Lubricates your joints better & healthier from the full body stretch (side of the body, spine, shoulders, armpits and abdomen)
- Improve chest congestion by creating space in the lungs & chest during the stretch
How to move into Urdhva Hastasana
- Stand with your feet together and arms at your sides. Press your weight evenly across the balls and arches of your feet.
- As you inhale, sweep your arms out to the sides and then up toward the sky. Both palms and fingers face each other, coming into prayer over your head. Straighten your arms completely, but do not lock the elbow joints.
- With an exhale, release your shoulders away from your ears to open the chest. Draw your front ribs in, toward your spine, and lengthen your tailbone toward the ground.
- Tilt your head back gently and gaze up at your thumbs.
- Hold the pose for up to one minute or 5 – 10 breathes. Breathe smoothly and it should be moving across the entire body. Lift up through the sides of your waist as you inhale. Soften your shoulders as you exhale.
- To release, exhale and sweep the arms back down to the sides of the body.
*Tips for beginner- You can practise the pose backed up against a wall. There will be a slight curve in your lower back but make sure your heels, buttocks, and shoulders touch the wall. Keep your head away from the wall, with your ears in line with your shoulders.
What muscles are you engaging?
- Erector spinae together with the muscles at the back helps to lift the spine and hold you upright.
- Abdominal muscles together with the back muscle helps to support and balance the torso which draws the rib cage downward.
Shoulders and Arms
- Lower trapezius depresses the shoulder downward.
- Middle trapezius and rhomboids draw the shoulder blades towards the spine which helps to open up the chest.
- Upper trapezius (back) and anterior deltoids (front shoulder) lifts the arm up to the ceiling.
- Triceps straighten the elbows.
Pelvis and Legs
- Psoas (front of the pelvis) flexes the thigh and glutei (buttock muscles) makes the thigh lengthen. The two muscles balance each other.
- Muscle of the pelvic diaphragm are active to create Mula Bandha and tone the organs of the pelvis.
- Quadriceps are shortened to straighten the knees.
- Gastrocnemius balances the ankles on the feet.
- Muscles on the top and bottom of the feet balance each other to ground the pose firmly.
My thoughts & experience of Urdhva Hastasana…
Urdhva Hastasna is a beginner standing pose involving shoulders, spine, knees and obliques muscle. When I practise and hold this pose after long desk-sitting time, I feel the stretch of my legs and elongate of my vertebra. This helps to relieve my stress, anxiety & back ache of long sitting. Not forgetting, it also improves digestion & bowel movements.
I feel the healing spiritually as it secures a connection with mother earth & allows free flow of energy. With that connection, it prepares me to move into other standing poses or deeper stretches/twists such as Uttanasana (Intense Forward Bending Pose), Vrksasana (Tree Pose), Utkatasana (Chair Pose), Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) etc with confidence and steadiness.
Try it and feel the power of this standing pose.
Ivy Ng (July-2021)