Fitness Magazine

Featured Pose: Arms Overhead Pose (Urdva Hastasana)

By Ninazolotow @Yoga4HealthyAge
by Baxter
Featured Pose: Arms Overhead Pose (Urdva Hastasana)This simple, energizing pose provides all the postural benefits of Mountain pose while at the same time stretching and strengthening your arms and shoulders. The slight backbend in your upper back opens your chest, encouraging a good inhalation, and helps reverse text neck or head forward syndrome. The three variations provide even more benefits!
Baxter prescribes this for:
  • Improving poor posture and opening the chest
  • Opening tight shoulders and releasing tension in the shoulders and upper back
  • Strengthening weak shoulders and arms
  • Low back pain
  • Poor balance
  • Text neck or head forward syndrome
  • Weakness in the legs or spine
  • Arthritis of shoulder, elbow, wrist, or finger joints
    Mental or physical fatigue 
Timing: If you are an experienced practitioner, hold the pose for 1-2 minutes. If you are new to the practice, start by holding this pose for 30 seconds, working up to 1-2 minutes over time. You can also do this pose dynamically. For versions 1-3, inhale and bring your arms then exhale and release your arms to your sides. For version 4, inhale and bring your arms overhead, exhale and bend to the right, inhale and come back to center, exhale and bend to the left, and inhale and return to center. Repeat for two more full rounds. 
Cautions: This pose is generally very safe and accessible. However, if you have a shoulder injury or pain, take your arms up cautiously, only going as far as you can without pain.  
1. Classic Version 
Featured Pose: Arms Overhead Pose (Urdva Hastasana)Start by coming into Mountain pose. On an inhalation, keeping your arms straight, lift your arms forward and up alongside your ears with palms facing one another. If you can’t keep your arms straight in this position, take them a bit wider apart. 
Keep your legs strong, and lengthen upward through your spine to the crown of your head, as if you were growing taller, encouraging a slight, even arch of your spine. Lengthen up through the sides of your body, from your hips all the way through your fingertips. Relax the sides of your neck as you lift your outer shoulder blades. If you notice that your back is bending deeply or your front lower ribs are jutting forward, relax your front lower ribs towards your spine a bit, even if that means you need to you’re your arms a bit forward. 
To come out of the pose, exhale and lower your arms. Rest in Mountain pose for a few breaths.  
2. Block Between Hands
Featured Pose: Arms Overhead Pose (Urdva Hastasana)Although this variation takes more effort than the classic version, it builds more upper back, shoulder, and arm strength. 
From Mountain pose, take a block (preferably lighter weight) between your hands, press your palms against ends of the block, and straighten your arms. On an inhalation, lift your arms forward and up alongside your ears as you continue to press your palms into the block. 
Follow the alignment instructions for the classic version. Because the block brings your hands close together, you may not be able to bring your arms as high up while keeping them straight, so stop when you feel your elbows are about to bend. Because holding the block takes extra effort, you may not be able to hold the pose as long as the classic version, so we recommend starting with 30-second hold and working up to longer holds over time.
To come out of the pose, exhale and lower your arms and the block. Then place the block aside and rest for a few breaths in Mountain pose.  
3. Bound Hands
Featured Pose: Arms Overhead Pose (Urdva Hastasana)This variation improves your shoulder flexibility while stretching the muscles of your forearms, wrists, and hands. Because this variation increases the stretch in your forearms and upper back, you can use it to improve kyphosis (Dowager’s Hump) and some elbow conditions, such as tennis or golfer’s elbow. The hand position helps prevent or improve carpal tunnel syndrome. However, you should not practice this version if it causes wrist pain or aggravates carpal tunnel symptoms.
From Mountain pose, start by interlacing your fingers and turning your palms down toward the floor. Then squeeze your fingers and pull your wrists apart. Inhale and raise your arms overhead, as far as they will go with straight elbows. If your hands are in the correct position, your palms will be facing the ceiling. Follow the alignment instructions for the classic version. Notice if you experience some stretching sensation in your palms, wrists, and/or forearms—this usually you are tight in those areas. 
To come out of the pose, exhale and lower your arms, and then release your hands and shake them out. If desired, repeat the pose with the opposite interlace of your fingers, which may change the stretch a bit.  
4. Crescent Moon
Featured Pose: Arms Overhead Pose (Urdva Hastasana)This variation provides a full side-stretch from your hips up through your hands, releasing tension in both muscles and fascia. While it improves both flexibility and your ability to breathe, it also  builds strength in the muscles at the sides of your torso (a part of core strength).
Start by coming into the classic version. Then, exhale and simultaneously lengthen and side-bend your torso a few inches over to your right side so your arms tip to the right and you feel a moderate stretch on the left side of your body. Keep your hips and chest facing forward, and either look forward or turn your head down to look at your right foot.
Keep your arms and legs energized and strong, as you relax your left side to release it and firm your right side to keep it from collapsing. As you take a full breath in and out, visualize your breath opening the left side of your chest. Hold the pose for 4-6 breaths, gradually working towards longer holds over time. Then inhale and, with strong legs, return briefly the classic pose. Then repeat the pose on the left side. After you finish the second side, return again to the classic pose and release to Mountain pose from there.
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