These moves will help unwind tight muscles and relax after a hard day. Last month, we began with Upward Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana). This month’s article is actually 2 amazing standing stretches that can be done back to back or separately. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana) & Upward Salute (Urdhva Hastasana). Until next month, Happy Stretching!
Upward Salute (Uddhva Hastasana)
1. Begin by standing tall. Turn your arms outward (or laterally) so that your palms face away from your torso and thumbs point backward. With an inhale, sweep your arms out to the sides and up toward the ceiling.
2. If you’re tighter in the shoulders, stop when your arms are approximately parallel to each other. But, if possible without hunching your shoulders forward, press your palms firmly together by touching the bases of your palms first, then the palms themselves, and, finally, the fingers.
3. Extend your elbows fully and reach up through your pinkies so that your thumbs turn slightly down toward the crown of your head. Make sure not to compress the back of your neck. Tip your head back slightly and gaze at your thumbs.
4. Don’t let your lower front ribs protrude forward. Bring your front ribs down (toward your pelvis) and in (toward your spine). Lengthen your tail bone toward the floor. Then, lift your rib cage evenly away from your pelvis to stretch the circumference of your belly. Hold for a few breaths.
5. Exhale and, as you sweep your arms out to the sides, tip your torso forward from the hip joints to fold into Standing Forward Bend
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
1. Begin by standing tall, with your hands on your hips.
2. Exhale as you bend forward at the hips, lengthening the front of your torso.
3. Bend your elbows and hold on to each elbow with the opposite hand. Let the crown of your head hang down. Press your heels into the floor as you lift your sit bones toward the ceiling. Turn the tops of your thighs slightly inward. Do not lock your knees.
4. If you can, keep the front of your torso long and your knees straight. Place your palms or fingertips on the floor beside your feet. Bring your fingertips in line with your toes and press your palms on the mat. Those with more flexibility can place their palms on the backs of their ankles.
5. Engage your quadriceps (the front thigh muscles) and draw them up toward the ceiling. The more you engage your quadriceps, the more your hamstrings (the rear thigh muscles) will release.
6. Bring your weight to the balls of your feet. Keep your hips aligned over your ankles.
7. Slightly lift and lengthen your torso with each inhalation. Release deeper into the pose with each exhalation. Let your head hang.
8. Hold the pose for up to one minute. To release, place your hands on your hips. Draw down through your tailbone and keep your back flat as you inhale and return slowly to standing tall.