Position your feet
Position your feet either with toes touching and heels slightly apart or your feet hip's width distance apart. Press all four corners of each foot into your mat.
Inhale and move your arms over your head
With palms facing in, breathe in, and simultaneously move your arms forward and up. With your arms still positioned up, relax your shoulders away from your ears. If the shoulders feel tight, widen your arms and leave the palms facing in.
Position your head and align your body
Stack the crown of your head over your pelvis and lengthen your tailbone towards the floor for a neutral pelvis. Maintain a neutral position in your upper spine and rib cage - not leaning too far forward or too far back.
Move your head back
Slowly and gently title your head back and gaze up at your thumbs. If this bothers your neck, gaze up with only your eyes while keeping your neck in a neutral position.
Move your focus to your breath
Breath in and imagine energy flowing up the sides of your body. As you exhale, soften your shoulder blades down your back and imagine energy flowing downward towards the and.
Hold for several breaths.
Continue to cycle through your breaths as you find a balance between the upward lengthening of the spine and the repeated release of the shoulders.
Rest your focus and gaze on the middle of the thumb, between the thumbnail and thumbnail joint. This point of cous is known as Angusthamadhye drishti.
Upward Salute (Urdhva hastasana) is usually placed after Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and before Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana), in Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskara).
When included as apart of a sun salutation, it is traditionally performed outside facing the east as the sun rises.
Benefits of Upward Salute Pose in Yoga
- Provides a natural energy boost and can be practiced first thing in the morning or after long periods of sitting.
- Improves shoulder mobility.
- By stretching and opening the chest, this pose helps to relieve congestion of the lungs, chest, and stomach, which aids in breathing and digestion.
- Helps relieve mild anxiety by placing focus into the body and breath.
- Helps to decrease fatigue by boosting energy through breath and stretching upward.
- Creates space between your rib cage and the vertebrae of your spine which helps to prepare the spine for deeper stretches and twists.
- Activates Serratus Anterior which is used for Chaturanga and other weight bearing arm postures.
Additional Upward Salute Pose Options
Those with shoulder or neck injuries avoid turning your gaze or head upwards if it hurts or if you become lightheaded or dizzy.
Reach your arms forward overhead instead of arms over your head sideways if this is easier for your shoulders and neck.
If it’s difficult to straighten your arms when they’re overhead, bring your arms farther apart.
To increase shoulder stability, mobility and strength, place a strap or band around forearms, just above elbows. Gently press your outer, upper arms against the band as you soften your shoulders and neck.
If it’s difficult to balance with your feet together, stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Gradually step your feet closer together as you gain balance in the pose.
Pregnant women widen your stance for stability.
For support it is possible to practice the pose backed up against a wall. Keep a slight curve in your lower back, but your heels, buttocks, and shoulders should gently touch the wall. Your neck may be more neutral against the wall with your eyes slightly gazing upward. Raise your arms overhead into a position that works for you.
Facts about Upward Salute Pose
Urdhva Hastasana (Urdhva = Upward, Hasta = Hands)
Talasana, Urdhva Vrikshasana,
Safety Reminders for Upward Salute Pose
Avoid extension in your thoracic spine meaning draw your ribcage in and avoid backward bending in your upper spine.
It is more important to keep the alignment of your spine and ribs than to reach your arms very high. Lower your arms if you need relief in shoulders, neck or upper spine.
Maintain a neutral engaged pelvis.