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Yoga Poses: Urdhva Vrksasana (Upward Tree Pose)

Fitness, Resources, Yoga

Yoga Poses: Urdhva Vrksasana (Upward Tree Pose)

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Upward Tree pose (Urdhva Vrksasana) is an upward intense stretch pose often confused with Mountain pose (Tadasana) and the Tree pose (Vrksasana), inspite of many postural differences. The differences however are due to the practitioner’s yoga style and lineage.

Upward Tree pose is performed twice in the Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) series of Ashtanga Yoga. The pose is beneficial in facilitating proper breathing technique and heating up body for the rest of the poses.

Other names: Hasta Uttanasana, Raised Arms Pose, Raised Hands Pose, Hand-Raising Pose, Sky Reaching Pose, Urdhva Hastasana.

Health Benefits

The pose is helpful in relieving mild depression and fatigue by improving circulation of blood and overall body posture.

Raising arms in this pose warms up body and is beneficial for controlling kapha. It also makes diaphragmatic breathing come naturally. Thus, thoracic breath is reduced significantly with only marginal abdominal breathing.

The pose is a full body stretch with prime focus on hands, arms, armpits, shoulders, spine, legs and ankles. Hence, digestion improves along with increase in lung capacity.

Getting into pose

What you need: Room with fresh air (if you’re doing it inside, otherwise do it in open area), and you.

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Initial Position: Stand upright with feet together and arms on sides

Drishti or Gaze: While performing this pose, concentrate your gaze upwards

Steps:

  1. Get into the initial position. Take a deep breath (1-2-3). Exhale slowly (1-2-3).
  2. Raise your arms above your head on a count of three while breathing in. As your arms go upwards, allow your gaze to follow them. Keep palms turned in and thumbs pointing backward. Maintain a shoulder wide distance between your palms. Do not raise your heels of feet. Stand flat foot with toes stretched out for maximum grip on the mat.
  3. Concentrating your gaze towards the sky, stretch as much as possible. Feel the tension in your arms, spine and thighs. Do not inhale or exhale at this time. Practice holding breath for 15-30 seconds.
  4. Revert to initial position while exhaling slowly on count of three.
  5. Breath normally for 10-20 seconds. Then, repeat the steps.
  6. This is one cycle of Urdhva Vrksasana. Do it at least twice along with other standing stretch poses.

Relax in Corpse pose (Savasana) if you feel exerted.

Other variations

  • Urdhva Baddhanguliyasana: This is a Vinyasa Yoga variation of this pose which is particularly helpful for those with neck injuries. However, those with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome should avoid it completely. To perform this variation, bring hands closer in front and interlock the fingers arms above your head. Turn the wrists outside in a way that your palms face away from you. Now, raise your arms above your head and stretch. Keep the gaze in front and not towards the sky. Here too, the feet are placed flat on mat.

Beginner Tips

In case you feel your thighs overstretching, place a small wedge under the heels of the feet.

Advanced poses

Important Notes

  • Those with neck injuries should not perform this pose.
  • It is safe to be performed by Pregnant women as part of their Prenatal Yoga practice but should not perform it without expert supervision.

Further reading

  1. Pranayama – Beginner’s Guide
  2. Ashtanga Yoga – Beginner’s Guide
  3. Yoga Lingo for Dummies

Last Updated: May 28, 2014

Next Scheduled Update: July 28, 2014

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