Yoga Journal - - Contents - By Nikki Vilella

Lengthen and strengthen from head to toe as you move from Urd­hva Has­tasana to Adho Mukha Vrk­sasana, with Nikki Vilella, se­nior teacher at Kula Yoga Project in New York City.

Urd­hva Has­tasana Urd­hva = Raised · Hasta = Hands · Asana = Pose Up­ward Salute

BEN­E­FITS Teaches ex­ten­sion from the ground up; length­ens your side waist; strength­ens your arms and shoul­ders


1 From stand­ing, bring the balls of your feet to touch, leav­ing a nar­row space be­tween your heels. Ground down through the four cor­ners of each foot. Lift and spread your toes—this will help you lift your arches and in­ner an­kles and get a sense of where your mid­line is. Then en­gage your quadri­ceps. Main­tain the lift in your arches and legs as you re­lease your toes down.

2 Neu­tral­ize your pelvis by an­chor­ing your tail­bone to­ward your heels and mov­ing the tops of your but­tocks down. This helps pre­vent an ex­ag­ger­ated curve in the lum­bar spine and keeps the lower front ribs from splay­ing out, which can in­ter­fere with main­tain­ing a strong line of ex­ten­sion in both Up­ward Salute and Hand­stand.

3 In­hale your arms out to your sides, par­al­lel to the floor. Ex­hale to ex­ter­nally ro­tate from the top of your humerus bones, where your arms in­sert into your shoul­ders. Draw the bot­tom tips of your shoul­der blades to­ward your spine, widen your col­lar­bones, and broaden your chest.

4 On an in­hala­tion, raise your arms along­side your ears. On an ex­ha­la­tion, root down through your feet.

5 In­hale to lengthen the sides of your waist even more and reach up through the crown of your head. Ex­hale to firm your arms closer to your ears and mid­line. Make sure your lower ribs are not splay­ing out. Keep your gaze at the hori­zon, your chin level, and your throat soft and open. Hold here for 8 breaths be­fore ex­hal­ing your arms down.

DON’T let your front ribs pop out and your pelvis drop into an an­te­rior tilt, which can cre­ate “ba­nana back.” An ex­ag­ger­ated lum­bar curve in Up­ward Salute will cause you to lose the root­ing action of your tail­bone and decrease the power found in a more stream­lined spinal ex­ten­sion.

arms go wide, which will re­sult in a loss of length in the sides of your waist.

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