How to Do Upward Salute Pose in Yoga (Guide to Urdva Hastasana)

Upward Salute is a standing asana, usually practiced as part of a Sun Salutation sequence. However, it can also be performed as a standalone pose to encourage spine and shoulder flexibility.

In the same way, as it is usually performed at the start of the practice, Upward Salute is best practiced in the morning to prepare you for the day ahead. It brings grace, balance, and energy to the body, as well as allows for a chance to work with one’s breath.

“The best word I can find to describe Upward Salute Pose is invigorating,” says Yoga Answered contributor Cat Harvey. “It always makes me feel ready to take on whatever life throws at me, whether it’s a challenging practice or a busy day.”

Upward Salute Pose Quick Look

Sanskrit Name: Urdva Hastasana
Pose Type: Standing Yoga Poses
Difficulty Level: Beginner pose
Targets: Spine, shoulders, neck, and feet.
Benefits: Upward Salute is a great way to elongate through your spine while simultaneously grounding through your feet. The backbend in the thoracic and cervical spine provides a stretch for the front of the body, including the hips, core muscles, chest, and throat. It challenges the practitioner’s balance, which results in better spatial awareness and coordination. Finding the right balance builds strength in the finer muscle tissues of the body, which has the added bonus of lowering the risk of physical injury in one’s day-to-day life. Finally, it increases flexibility in the shoulder girdle and spine.
Preparatory Poses: Mountain Pose, Staff Pose, Puppy Pose

How to Do Upward Salute Pose Step-By-Step

  1. Start in the standing position. Align your pelvis and spine to a neutral position, hug the ribs in and plant the feet firmly into the ground.
  2. On an inhale, raise your arms overhead and bring the palms together at the top. Keep the arms straight if possible.
  3. Create a gentle backbend in your upper back, as you pull the arms further back and open the heart to the sky.
  4. Follow your thumbs with your gaze. Follow up with Mountain Pose or Standing Forward Bend pose.

Beginner’s Tip

Although it may look simple, this asana requires some shoulder and spine mobility. If you struggle to keep your arms straight, it’s perfectly acceptable to bend at the elbows to accommodate your shoulders. This may also help you reach your arms further back and open through the chest. Avoid arching through the lower spine; focus instead on thoracic mobility. You can help yourself by tucking the tailbone slightly under to halt the arch in the lower back. And if you’re feeling tight around your upper back, don’t worry too much about arching and grow upward instead. Finally, protect your neck – if looking up makes you dizzy or uncomfortable, keep your gaze directed forward.

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