upward salute (urdhva hastasana)

by February 2, 2012

Commonly referred to as “high prayer”, urdhva hastasana is a simple yet effective tool in your yoga practice. It is a main part of the sun salutation which is performed in just about every session.

Upward Salute allows one to work on opening the shoulders and lengthening the spine. Many times when we injure our back or pull a muscle in that area we desire to forward bend into a pose like uttanasana to relieve pain and tightness. Although this seems beneficial, it actually performs the opposite of what you want to accomplish. When we forward bend the vertebrae in the spine move closer together. So to ease the tightness we should look to lengthen the spine and create space.

This will also work on opening the shoulders and chest area. Men and women have different body types and flexibility; sometimes tightness or inflexibility differences can be seen in poses like this one. As a guy, you may not be able to touch the hands together comfortably while keeping the arms straight. This is because our shoulders are naturally tighter than women. If it is uncomfortable, just reach the hands up and leave them apart with the palms facing each other. Don’t worry, as you practice more the hands will eventually come together…have patience 🙂

Upward Salute (urdhva hastasana)

Begin in tadasana. Take a few deep inhales and exhales through the nose here. Concentrate on the breath and stillness in the body. Take the focal point (gaze) to something in front of you that is not moving.

On the beginning of the next inhale take the arms upward reaching towards the sky with the palms facing (or touching in high prayer). Reach as high as you can extending through the fingertips and trying to lengthen every muscle and bone in your body. Ground down through the feet and find stability in your stance.

On the exhale lower the hands to the heart center in prayer and then let them fall to the sides returning to tadasana.

Repeat the process 3-5 times moving with the breath and natural movments in the body.


Works on opening shoulders and light back bending.
Lengthens the spine and stretches the back muscles.
Improves posture.