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Hasta Uttanasana or Raised Arms Pose

hasta uttanasana
English Name(s)
Raised Arms Pose
Sanskrit
हस्त उत्तानासन / Hasta Uttanasana
Pronunciation
hah-stah OOT-tahn-NAHS-uh-nuh
Meaning
Hasta: Hands or Arms
Uttana: Intense stretch or Stretching upwards
Asana: Pose

Hasta Uttanasana at a Glance

Hasta Uttanasana, or Uttanasana, is a yoga pose in the (Sun Salutation) Surya Namaskar sequences. This pose has a standing backbend, which helps in the full intake of oxygen, which significantly stretches the whole body. The pose is also called a Hand-Raising Pose, Raised Arms Pose, Raised Hands Pose, and Sky Reaching Pose.

Benefits:

  • Stretches the muscles of the abdomen and thigh muscles.
  • It opens the chest to benefit the respiratory system.
  • It helps to build the spine’s stretch and build the spine’s strength.
  • Strengthens and stretches the shoulders.

Who can do it?

The pose is suitable for all beginners as it is an integral part of the sun salutation series. It can also be practiced safely by pregnant women with some modifications. Advanced practitioners can use it as a warm-up.

Who should not do it?

People with severe back problems or injuries should modify or avoid the pose altogether. Those with uncontrolled high blood pressure and people prone to dizziness or vertigo should be careful when coming up from the forward bend.

Introduction

As part of the Surya Namaskar sequences, Hasta Uttanasana pays homage to the Sun, a symbol of consciousness, enlightenment, and the source of all life. Through this pose, a person aims to harmonize their body, mind, and spirit, fostering a sense of gratitude and mindfulness. It is a hand-intense stretch that can be modified to suit individual abilities and needs. When performed with awareness and proper alignment, it can provide physical and mental benefits while setting a positive intention for the yoga practice.

Chakras

This pose can help activate the Root chakra (Muladhara chakra), which involves grounding through the feet and legs. Stretching and engaging your core muscles in this pose stimulates the Solar plexus chakra (Manipura chakra), associated with personal power and transformation. It also activates the Crown chakra (Sahasrara chakra), Third Eye chakra (Ajna chakra), Throat chakra (Vishuddha chakra) and heart chakra (Anahata Chakra).

Philosophy

  • It is an integral part of the sun salutation series, which expresses gratitude to the Sun for sustaining life on Earth. In yoga philosophy, the coordination of breath (pranayama) with physical movement is emphasized.
  • Hasta Uttanasana involves inhaling while stretching hands slightly upward, which helps full oxygen intake and good blood flow. The pose stretches the entire body, preventing skin from loosening.
  • The practice of Hasta Uttanasana and the Sun Salutation sequence lights up the body with fresh blood circulation.
  • Hasta Uttanasana encourages practitioners to focus on their body’s alignment, breath, and stretch, promoting mindfulness and self-awareness with improved mobility.

How to Do Hasta Uttanasana?
Follow the Step-by-Step Procedure

  1. Stand straight in tadasana with weight evenly distributed on both feet. Inhale, raise your hands overhead. Arms should be straight and parallel.
  2. Bend slightly backward, creating a curve. Do not bend your knees or elbows.
  3. Extend the forearms, with palms facing forward, at the elbows and lock them with full awareness.
  4. Keep your gaze upwards and look at your thumbs. Hold the pose for a few seconds.
  5. You can lengthen your spine and deepen the arch by constantly pushing backward slowly with breadth.
  6. Exhale, lower your arms and come back to the starting position.

Points to remember

The best time to practice Hasta Uttanasana is during sunrise and on an empty stomach (or at least 4 hours after having a meal), as the pose is a part of Surya Namaskara (salutation to the Sun).

What are the Benefits of Hasta Uttanasana?

  • The practice of Hasta Uttanasana helps improve posture by elongating the spine and strengthening the back muscles.
  • The pose stretches the entire body, including the tight hamstrings, calves, and spine, improving flexibility in tight shoulders.
  • Hasta Uttanasana pose involves the core, abdominal organs, and back muscles, increasing overall strength.
  • The forward bend in this pose massages the digestive organs, thus improving digestion and relieving mild digestive discomfort.
  • It promotes relaxation, reduces stress, and calms the mind, promoting mental clarity by promoting fresh blood circulation.
  • Hasta Uttanasana balances energy when practiced regularly.
  • The pose relaxes facial muscles, balances hormones, and promotes excellent oxygen flow.
  • It helps to deepen the connection between body and mind. Take deep and full breaths.

Health Conditions that Might Benefit from Hasta Uttanasana

  • Poor Posture: Hasta Uttanasana or the raised arms pose, helps improve posture by stretching and elongating the spine, strengthening the back muscles, and promoting a more upright posture.
  • Back Pain (Mild): Due to gentle back stretching, Hasta Uttanasana helps relieve tension in the back muscles.
  • Stiffness and Lack of Flexibility: People experiencing stiffness in the back, hamstrings, or calf muscles can benefit from stretching of the pose.
  • Stress and Anxiety: Deep breathing in the pose helps relieve stress or anxiety and increases oxygen flow.
  • Digestive Discomfort: The forward bend in this pose helps stimulate the digestive organs, thus helping in good abdominal organ health.
  • Fatigue and Low Energy: The blood circulation promotes better health with improved energy.
  • Mild Depression: When practiced regularly, the pose helps enhance the mood and promotes good health benefits.
  • Balance and Coordination Issues: Practicing balance in this pose can help improve overall balance and coordination. Breathe evenly throughout the practice.
  • Spiritual Well-Being: Hasta Uttanasana can help connect with higher consciousness and enhance a sense of gratitude and mindfulness.
  • General Well-Being: Hasta Uttanasana, part of regular yoga practice in correct alignment, contributes to overall physical and mental well-being by promoting a sense of vitality, relaxation, and balance.

Safety and Precautions

  • People with severe back problems or recent injuries should modify the pose or consult a healthcare professional.
  • People with uncontrolled high blood pressure should ensure they do not hold their breath during the stretch.
  • Pregnant women should modify Hasta Uttanasana with bent knees and proper abdominal support.
  • People with dizziness or vertigo should come up slowly and mindfully when reverting from a forward bend to an upright position.
  • People with recent abdominal or back surgery should consult a healthcare provider or a qualified yoga instructor before attempting Hasta Uttanasana.
  • People with conditions like spondylolisthesis or spinal stenosis should modify the pose.

Beginners Tips

  • Always start with a gentle warm-up to prepare your body for Hasta Uttanasana. Simple stretches and neck and shoulder rolls can help loosen your muscles.
  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Ensure your weight is evenly distributed between both feet and your toes point forward. You should feel stable during the practice of the pose.
  • Do not apply unwanted pressure backward at first. Slowly move backward. Keep your feet parallel, and avoid locking your knees. Slightly bend your knees to prevent hyperextension.
  • Engage your core muscles. This will provide support to your lower back and protect your spine.
  • As you inhale, place your arms overhead with control. Keep your arms straight and active, with your palms facing each other. Open your chest and gaze slightly upward.
  • Focus on slowly stretching your whole body from your heels to your fingertips. Avoid forcing your body into a deep backbend. The stretch should feel comfortable.
  • You can deepen the stretch for advanced backbends such as wheel pose( Urdhva Dhanurasana) or any other advanced deep backbend poses as it gives a nice stretch to the spine.
  • Maintain deep and even breathing throughout the pose. Inhale as you raise your arms and exhale as you release them. Deep breaths will help you relax and expand your chest.
  • Keep your neck soft and comfortable. If looking upward causes strain, gaze straight ahead or slightly upward. Feel grounded and stable. You can modify the pose using yoga blocks to reach the floor.

Hasta Uttanasana and the Breath

  • Stand straight. Inhale and exhale. Raise your arms over your head. Keep your spine lifted and engage your core.
  • Inhale and exhale keep stretching your arms, and relax your shoulders and neck. Keep your palms forward.
  • Inhale and exhale, relax your muscles and hold this pose for a few deep breaths. Look slightly up at the thumb.
  • Release the pose slowly. Inhale and exhale, bring your arms down and come back to the starting position. Relax.

Physical Alignment Principles of Hasta Uttanasana

  • Keep your spine straight with your shoulder relaxed while raising your hands up and during the pose.
  • Involve your entire body and keep elongating your spine with deep breathing during the pose.
  • Do not overach your spine while looking up into the pose. Keep your weight equally distributed throughout the pose.

Hasta Uttanasana Variations

  • Standing backbend pose
  • Hands bound rising locust pose
  • Raised arms pose
  • Seated Backbend with Eagle Arms in Chair
  • Lord Shiva Cycle of Life Dance Pose
  • Standing Backbend Hands Behind Head
  • Standing Reverse Prayer Column Extension
  • Standing Backbend Pose Partner
  • Cobra Pose Wall
  • Standing Backbend Pose Hands on Wall

Follow-Up Poses

  • Uttanasa (Standing Forward Bend)
  • Ardha Uttanasana (Half Forward Bend)
  • Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)
  • Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog)
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)
  • Phalakasana (Plank Pose)
  • Balasana (Child’s Pose)
  • Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) or Salabhasana (Locust Pose)
  • Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Counter Poses

  • Wide-leg Uttanasana (Standing Forward fold)
  • Balasana (Child’s Pose)

Common Mistakes

The knees for the pose should not be bent. Keep your legs straight. Do not put too much pressure on the lower back. Leaning back should be slow and gentle. Too much pressure can affect the lower back. Open the chest and do not bend the elbows. Keep them straight with shoulders up. Actively bring the shoulders down to get the final pose. Breathing should be deep and slow and approach the pose gently and properly, synchronizing breathing with the movements.

FAQs

What is the anatomy of Hasta Uttanaasana?

The pose stretches the muscles of the shoulders, neck, and chest. Abdomen, psoas, and strengthen hips, quads, and knees.

What is the difference between Hasta Uttanasana and Anuvittasana?

Anuvittasana is a standing backbend, whereas Hasta Uttanasana is a standing backbend with raised hands.

Does Hasta Uttanasana benefit from obesity?

Yes, regular practice of this pose helps in weight loss, but consulting a doctor is necessary for proper weight management and many health benefits.

The Bottom Line

Hasta Uttanasana is an intense backward stretch practiced as the second and eleventh pose of the Surya Namaskar sequence. The mantra recited during the posing practice is “Om Ravaye Namaha,” a salutation to the shining one, praised by everyone. It is a pose to warm up, open the chest, strengthen the spine, and maintain overall well-being. Hasta Uttanasana is an excellent way to avoid forward shoulder rounding for kids, teens and professionals. Perform Hasta Uttanasana regularly to get the optimum benefit.

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Meera Watts
Meera Watts is the owner and founder of Siddhi Yoga International. She is known worldwide for her thought leadership in the wellness industry and was recognized as a Top 20 International Yoga Blogger. Her writing on holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and other international magazines. She got the Top 100 Entrepreneur of Singapore award in 2022. Meera is a yoga teacher and therapist, though now she focuses primarily on leading Siddhi Yoga International, blogging and spending time with her family in Singapore.

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