Upward Salute with Backbend

Urdhva Hastasana with Backbend

"The most important pieces of equiptment you need for doing yoga are your body and your mind." - Rodney Yee

Upward Salute with Backbend

Introduction to Upward Salute with Backbend

Upward Salute with Backbend (Urdhva Hastasana)

This simple yet powerful yoga posture helps to stimulate the entire posture chain of the body. By adding a gentle backbend to a grounded Mountain Pose, this asana helps to warm-up the back body while also stretching the front body. 

The added element of balance in this shape helps to turn on the core and create engagement in the feet—all of which is helpful to prepare for a well-rounded yoga practice.  

Also, by adding this element of heart opening into Mountain Pose, this yoga posture invites a sense of receptiveness and vulnerability into the practice. 

How To Practice

  1. Start standing in Mountain Pose. Your feet can be together or roughly hip-distance apart. Spread your toes wide and ground down firmly into the tripod base of your feet. 
  2. Inhale and sweep your arms up overhead. 
  3. Cinch your waistline as if tightening a corset and hug your navel in toward your spine and up toward your rib cage.
  4. Ground down firmly against your feet and grow tall through your spine.
  5. Draw your shoulder blades toward each other and expand and open your heart center forward toward the top of your mat. 
  6. Puff your chest up toward the sky and press your pubic bone forward in space. 
  7. Hold for a few breaths.
  8. Then, ground down firmly into your feet, gather your core, and rise back up to stand in a neutral position.

Practice Tips

Imagine lifting your heart up and over something behind you rather than releasing straight backward. Create length in your spine before extending into the backbend.

If you feel any discomfort in your lower back, reduce the bend in your spine. It may also be helpful to re-integrate your core for extra support. 

You can also take different arm variations to reduce the load on your spine. You can draw your hands to your heart or your hips or release your arms by your sides and slide your hands down the back of your legs as you backbend.

Recommended Use

This posture is excellent to prepare for a backbending practice or a practice focused on standing balances as it, of course, opens the heart center and introduces balance into an otherwise grounded and stable yoga pose.

It may also be helpful to practice this asana toward the beginning of any yoga practice to counter our usual daily posture (which typically includes a flexed/rounded spine), and open us up (both physically and mentally) to what is coming in the practice.

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