Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute): A Simple Yet Powerful Yoga Pose 2024

Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute) Procedure, Benefits & Contraindications

A blog post about Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute), a basic yoga pose that has many benefits for the body and mind.

Yoga’s Upward Salute pose seems simple enough – just stand upright and stretch your arms over your head. But there’s more to Urdhva Hastasana than meets the eye. This fundamental asana tones muscles, enhances breathing and calms the mind. 

To start, stand with feet together, spine elongated. Inhale and sweep arms up alongside ears, palms facing in. Gaze softly at thumbs, energizing the stretch from fingertips to toes. Hold for five slow breaths. Exhale and float your arms back down. Repeat as desired.

Done with care, Upward Salute strengthens shoulders and back while opening the ribs and lungs. It improves posture and eases stress. Those with high blood pressure or neck/shoulder injuries should modify or avoid the pose. Others can enhance the stretch by interlacing fingers or trying different hand positions.  

Simple but transformative – the power of yoga shines through this uplifting stance. Approach with mindful movements and reap the abundant benefits.

How to Do Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)

To practice Urdhva Hastasana, follow these steps:

  • Stand with your big toes touching and a small amount of space between your heels. This is Tadasana (Mountain Pose), the starting point for many standing poses.
  • Engage your legs and lift your kneecaps. Draw your tailbone down and lengthen your spine. Relax your shoulders and keep your chest open.
  • Inhale and sweep your arms out to the sides and up, reaching your fingertips towards the sky. Keep your arms straight and your palms facing each other. If possible, touch your palms together in a prayer position.
  • Lift your gaze and look at your thumbs, or keep your head neutral and look forward. Avoid dropping your head back or compressing your neck.
  • Extend your side waist and lift your ribcage away from your pelvis. Avoid arching your lower back or flaring your ribs.
  • Breathe deeply and hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds, or as long as comfortable.
  • To release, exhale and lower your arms to your sides, returning to Tadasana.

Benefits of Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)

Urdhva Hastasana is a simple yet powerful yoga pose that can benefit your physical and mental health in many ways. Some of the benefits are:

  • It stretches your chest, shoulders, arms, and abdomen, improving your posture and flexibility.
  • It strengthens your arms, shoulders, and core muscles, enhancing your stability and balance.
  • It stimulates your digestive system and helps relieve constipation and bloating.
  • It increases the blood flow to your brain and upper body, boosting your energy and alertness.
  • It calms your mind and reduces stress and anxiety, promoting a positive mood and outlook.
  • It activates your Anahata (heart) chakra and Vishuddha (throat) chakra, fostering feelings of openness, joy, and compassion.

Contraindications of Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)

Urdhva Hastasana is generally a safe and accessible pose for most people, but there are some situations where you should avoid or modify it. Some of the contraindications are:

  • Shoulder injuries or shoulder pain: If you have any issues with your shoulders, you may want to keep your arms shoulder-width apart or lower than your ears, rather than touching your palms together.
  • Neck injuries or neck pain: If you have any problems with your neck, you may want to keep your head neutral and look forward, rather than looking up at your thumbs.
  • High blood pressure: If you have high blood pressure, you may want to avoid lifting your arms above your head, as this can increase your blood pressure further. You can keep your arms at shoulder level or lower, or place your hands on your hips.
  • Pregnancy: If you are pregnant, you may want to widen your stance and create more space for your belly, rather than keeping your feet together. You can also place your hands on your belly or on your lower back for support.
  • Vertigo: If you suffer from vertigo or dizziness, you may want to avoid looking up at your thumbs, as this can trigger or worsen your symptoms. You can keep your head neutral and look forward, or close your eyes and focus on your breath.
  • Lower back pain or spinal issues: If you have any conditions affecting your lower back or spine, you may want to avoid arching your back or overextending your spine, as this can cause more pain or injury. You can keep your spine neutral and engage your core muscles, or bend your knees slightly to reduce the pressure on your lower back.

Tips and Variations for Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)

Urdhva Hastasana is a versatile pose that can be practiced on its own or as part of a larger yoga sequence. You can also modify or vary the pose to suit your needs and preferences. Here are some tips and variations to try:

  • To warm up your body and prepare for Urdhva Hastasana, you can practice some preparatory poses such as Tadasana (Mountain Pose), Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend Pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend Pose), and Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) Arms.
  • To add some movement and dynamism to Urdhva Hastasana, you can practice it as part of a Sun Salutation sequence, alternating between Urdhva Hastasana and Uttanasana with each breath. You can also add some side bends or twists to Urdhva Hastasana, moving your arms and torso to the right and left, or rotating your palms and arms inward and outward.
  • To challenge yourself and increase the intensity of Urdhva Hastasana, you can practice some follow-up poses such as Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend Pose), Trikonasana (Triangle Pose), Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose), and Balasana (Child’s Pose).
  • To make Urdhva Hastasana more accessible and comfortable, you can use some props such as a yoga strap, a yoga block, or a wall. You can wrap a strap around your arms and hold it with your hands, creating some tension and resistance. You can place a block between your palms and squeeze it, activating your arms and shoulders. You can also stand with your back against a wall and press your arms and hands into the wall, creating some support and alignment.

Conclusion

Reach for the heavens with Upward Salute, a simple yet mighty yoga pose. Stand tall with feet grounded, arms extended straight up, palms pressed together in uplifting prayer. Though it looks easy, Urdhva Hastasana works wonders through mindful movement. 

This invigorating stretch opens the ribs and lungs, building strength in the shoulders and back. The stimulation energizes the organs and glands, an instant boost of feel-good positivity. Clear the morning brain fog or combat an afternoon slump with this powerful antidote to fatigue.  

Approach with care to avoid strain. Modify positioning if needed, respecting limitations while enjoying the abundant benefits. For those new to their practice, go slow, breathing easy as you sink into the posture. With consistent practice, Upward Salute enhances flexibility, realigns posture, and calms the restless mind.

Bring hands to heart center once more when closing the pose, giving thanks for a fresh start or a revitalizing reset. This simple sequence keeps us grounded yet aspiring ever upward.

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