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Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute) might seem like one of easiest poses in yoga at first glance, but it is the foundation standing poses including Tadasana (Mountain Pose) to Vrksasana (Tree Pose) to Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation). Upward Salute teaches extension from the ground up: You need to lengthen from your side waist while strengthening your arms and shoulders.

Mindfully explore the opposing forces at play as you ground down through your feet and lift your arms above your head. Feel the energy move up and down your spine with each breath as you stand tall and reach for the sky. Close your eyes and feel the strength of your body, knowing you are fully supported by the ground. Focusing your attention to your breath can ease anxiety and stress, preparing you for your day or the rest of your asana practice.

Upward Salute Basics

Sanskrit: Urdhva Hastasana (oord-vah hahs-TAHS-anna)

Pose type: Standing posture

Targets: Full body

Why we love it:  “This pose really stretches my shoulders—and opens my chest. I love doing this as a counter pose after a long hold in Garudasana (Eagle Pose). After having my shoulders wrapped up and activated for an extended period of time, Upward Salute gives them some much-needed relief.” —Yoga Journal staff writer, Ellen O’Brien

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Pose benefits

A belly-stretching pose, Upward Salute can help you improve your digestion. It is also a great pose for stretching the shoulders and armpits.

Upward Salute: Step-by-step instructions

(Photo: Christopher Dougherty)

    1. Stand with your big toes touching and a small amount of space between your heels. •
    2. Root down with your big toe mounds and pull up with your inner arches. Spin your inner thighs back while gently releasing your tailbone toward your heels.
    3. Draw your shoulders back while softening your front ribs toward your front hip bones. Stack the crown of your head above your pelvis with your chin level to the floor.
    4. Press down through the four corners of each foot, then raise your arms overhead with your hands shoulder distance apart and palms facing each other.  If your front ribs lift, descend them toward your front hip bones.
    5. Spin your biceps back. Allow your shoulder blades to spin out and up away from your spine. Draw your upper arms back and in line with your ears.
    6. If you’re able to keep your arms straight, reach up and touch your palms, bringing your gaze to your thumbs.
    7. To exit, release your arms.

Teaching Upward Salute

These cues will help protect your students from injury and help them have the best experience of the pose:

  •  If straightening your raised arms is a challenge, secure them with should-width loop around your upper arms (just above the elbows).
  • On an exhalation, soften the top of your lungs and feel the space around your heart increase. This energy shift creates softness in the ribs and gives you more space to breathe.

Variation: Stable upward salute

(Photo: Christopher Dougherty)

For stable base, practice with your feet hip-distance apart. Bring your arms more to a V shape at whatever width and height is comfortable for you (they may be more forward if you have shoulder limitations, and that is OK).

Preparatory poses

Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Counter poses

Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Reference Article

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