Trying to listen to alignment cues in a yoga class and understanding the right positioning can be overwhelming, especially if you’re a complete beginner and simply trying to just keep up!
That’s why every month I will break down a pose, show you how to get into it safely, highlight its benefits and offer one or two top tips.
Continuing our series of standing poses, let’s take a look at Urdhva Hastasana or literally translated ‘Raised Hands Pose’.
Establishing the Foundation of the pose
Begin in Tadasana or, Mountain Pose. Rotate your arms outwards so that your palms are facing away from you, thumbs pointing backwards.
Moving Into the Pose
On an inhalation, raise your arms outwards and upwards towards the ceiling.
Keeping your arms parallel to each other and palms facing each other, try to bring your biceps in line with your ears if possible.
If the shoulders are tight, widen the arms a little.
Release your shoulder blades down the back if you notice your shoulders have hunched upwards.
Lengthen the tailbone downwards.
Keeping a micro-bend in the knees, ensure the thigh muscles are strongly engaged, drawing the knee caps upwards.
Lengthen the back of the neck while tipping the head back slightly to look upwards towards your thumbs.
Maintaining the Pose
Try to straighten your arms, reaching all the way up through hands right to the very tips of the fingers;
If you notice your ribs are jutting forwards, aim to bring them down in the direction of your pelvis and inwards towards your spine.
Hold here for a couple of breaths.
A more advanced yoga practitioner may lengthen upwards from the sides of the torso and tilt backwards with a gentle backbend. This is not recommended for beginners.
Completing the Pose
On an exhale, release the arms down by your sides and return to Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
- Strengthens the legs
- Provides a full body stretch
- Improves posture
Don’t Do If…
If you have a shoulder or neck injury, raising arms overhead is not advisable;
Those with high blood pressure are advised not to hold the arms overhead for too long;
Often done as part of a Sun Salutation sequence, Urdhva Hastasana is a worthwhile pose in its own right.
There is a lot more to this pose than meets the eye, namely a ‘push-pull’ opposition as the lower feet root down into the mat while the thighs draw upwards and the hands reach up while the shoulders draw down.
A naturally uplifting pose, Urdhva Hastasana is the first posture of Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutation).