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Benefits of Hasta Uttanasana and How to Do it By Dr. Ankit Sankhe

By Dr. Ankit Sankhe +2 more

Introduction: 

Modern civilization has brought happiness coupled with unhealthy levels of competition and a compulsion to achieve targets, paving the way to a stressful life. To get an escape from this busy lifestyle, the quest for reliable methods to do the same has intensified. In this way, the practice of yoga has gained the limelight. The practice of yogasanas has benefitted all dimensions of health like physical, spiritual, mental and social and at the same time, has promoted harmony with nature and has helped in conserving the environment.  In this blog, we will discuss the health benefits and other know-how of one such asana, hasta uttanasana.1 

What is Hasta Uttanasana? 

Hasta uttanasana is a standing yoga posture of surya namaskara. The name comes from the Sanskrit words “hasta”, meaning hand “ut” meaning intense, “tan” meaning stretch and “asana” which means yoga or posture. In English, this yoga asana is called as raised arm pose. It is, therefore an intense backward stretch practised as the second and eleventh pose of Surya namaskar.2,3 

hasta uttanasana

How to do it? 

Hasta uttanasana must be done correctly for maximum health benefits. One may perform hasta uttanasana in the following manner: 

  • First, stand in tadasana; stand straight with your feet firm and aligned at shoulder level. Arms are in a relaxed position on either side.  
  • Next, inhale and slowly raise and stretch both arms above your head. Both of your arms will be shoulder-width apart. 
  • Keep the legs straight and stiff. Next, bend your arms, head and upper body slightly backward. 
  • While bending, ensure you do not overstrain your upper body while bending. 
  • Breathe out and slowly come back to the initial position.2 

Note- it is best to practice any asana empty stomach or a minimum of 4 hours of having a meal, whichever is sooner. The best time to practice hasta uttanasana is during sunrise because this asana is part of surya namaskara, i.e. Salutation to the Sun. 

Do you know? 

  • Hasta uttanasana helps in opening up the Vishuddhi chakra. The activation of this chakra helps in unleashing freedom and happiness. 
  • The mantra recited during the practice of hasta uttanasana is “Om Ravaye Namaha”, a salutation to the shining one, praised by everyone. 
  • Hasta uttanasana, a part of surya namaskara, reflects the twenty-four-hour cycle of the day and the twelve zodiac phases of the year. It is practised to warm up and strengthen the spine. 

Benefits of Hasta Uttanasana:  

Keeping the origin and history in mind, let us now discuss some benefits of hasta uttanasana, which will make this asana worth trying. Enlisted below are a few health benefits of hasta uttanasana. 

Benefit of Hasta Uttanasana for obesity 

Literature studies show that the practice of yoga asanas may positively impact obesity. Bhutkar et al. 2011 conducted a study to assess the effects of hasta uttanasana along with other sequences of surya namaskara. The results of this study showed that this yoga intervention helped in reducing body fat and body mass index (comparison of a person’s body weight to his height). Therefore, there is a potential that the practice of hasta uttanasana may potentially benefit weight loss and, thus, may have the potential to manage obesity. Additionally, the practice of this asana may enhance metabolism. However, we need more studies to assess these claims. Due to this limitation, you should not consider the practice of this asana as a remedy for the management of obesity. It is best to consult your doctor for the proper treatment. The practice of hasta uttanasana must be done strictly under the supervision of a qualified trainer.3, 4 

Benefit of Hasta Uttanasana to the kidney 

Surya namaskara or salutation to the almighty sun helps in unleashing various benefits for our body. A review by Venkatesh et al. in 2022 stated that hasta uttanasana, which is part of surya namaskara helps in contracting and expanding muscles, which increases the blood flow towards the kidney. This may help in flushing out toxins from the body. Thus, the practice of hasta uttanasana may help in purifying blood via the kidney. To apply these findings, we will need more studies. It is therefore advised to consult your doctor for the proper treatment and not rely on this asana alone. Additionally, the practice of hasta uttanasana should be strictly done under the supervision of a qualified trainer.5 

Benefit of Hasta Uttanasana for cardiac diseases 

Cardiac diseases are one of the most common health issues and are the number one cause of death worldwide. People have started to realize that we can reduce the risk of cardiac diseases through lifestyle modifications like walking, exercises and yoga asanas. Venkatesh et al. conducted a review in 2022 which stated that the practice of hasta uttanasana may help reduce the risk factors like high heart rate, abnormal cholesterol and triglycerides levels. Thus, the practice of yogasanas like hasta uttanasana may reduce the risk of cardiac diseases. However, you should not consider this asana as an alternative to modern medicine. It is advised to consult your doctor for proper management of any heart disease. Also, you should practice this asana under the supervision of a qualified trainer only.5 

Benefit of Hasta Uttanasana on lungs 

Lungs are the vital organs of the respiratory system, which help in the process of breathing, delivering oxygen to different parts of the body and removing toxic wastes. Research shows that the practice of yogasanas may improve the functioning of the lungs. A review was conducted by Balayogi et al. in 2011 to assess the effect of different surya namaskar sequences on health. The study states that the practice of hasta uttanasana may help improve respiratory volumes and pulmonary functioning. This is due to the stretching of the abdomen, which causes the expansion of the lungs. Additionally, this asana may increase the blood supply to the lungs and help in removing toxins. Therefore, yoga asanas like hasta uttanasana may positively impact the functioning of the lungs. However, it is recommended not to consider this asana as an alternative to modern medicine. It is recommended to consult a doctor for proper treatment. Additionally, it is best to practice this asana under the supervision of a qualified trainer.3, 6 

Also Read: Why Does Stretching Feel Good? Exploring the Science Behind It

Other benefits of Hasta Uttanasana: 

  • Hasta uttanasana, a part of surya namaskara may help in activating prana (or the subtle energy), which activates the human body.3 
  • The regular practice of hasta uttanasana may help in strengthening the back.3 
  • This asana may help in increasing the supply of fresh, oxygenated blood to the brain, which improves the functioning of the brain.3 

Note- The benefits mentioned above of hasta uttanasana are studied in a limited human population. To ascertain these claims in humans, more studies are required. 

Although the practice of Yoga may help in the development of the mind and body, however, you should not consider yoga as an alternative to modern medicine. It is advised not to rely on Yoga alone to treat any condition. Kindly consult a qualified doctor for proper treatment. Additionally, any asana practice should be done under the supervision of a qualified trainer. 

Let me tell you a secret. Hasta Uttanasana along with the amazing Surya Namaskar sequence might have a hidden power. They may actually work their magic on our endocrine glands. And guess what? It might help bring balance during that tricky transition phase between childhood and adolescence for all the growing kids.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Risks of Hasta Uttanasana: 

As hasta uttanasana is practised as a part of surya namaskara, the precautions and contraindications of surya namaskara will apply to hasta uttanasana too. 

Conditions where hasta uttanasana should be performed with caution are:  

  • In back pain or stiffness, caution must be taken, and overstretching should be avoided.  
  • Low blood pressure and dizziness will make you unfit to perform this asana.  

Conditions where hasta uttanasana is contraindicated include:  

  • Sciatica and hip injuries require rest, and it is usually recommended that the practice of any asana should be avoided in people with these complaints. 
  • Pregnant and menstruating women should avoid the practice of hasta uttanasana. 
  • There is no data regarding the safety of this asana in children and the elderly. It is always advised to consult a qualified trainer if you want to adopt this yoga practice into your routine. 

I may have some interesting news about Hasta Uttanasana and the Surya Namaskar sequence. They might have a special talent for relieving constipation and giving your digestion a little kickstart. So, if you’ve been dealing with any such abdominal complaints, these poses might just be your new best friends.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Conclusion

Hasta uttanasana is a standing yoga posture of surya namaskara; the name comes from the Sanskrit words “hasta” meaning hand and “ut” meaning intense, “tan” meaning stretch and “asana” which means yoga or posture. It is, therefore, an intense backward stretch practised as the second and eleventh pose of surya namaskara. The practice of this asana may potentially manage obesity, reduce the risk of cardiac diseases, helps in purifying the blood and improve the functioning of the brain, lungs, etc.  

Frequently Asked Questions

1) What is Hasta Uttanasana? 

Hasta Uttanasana is a standing yoga posture of Surya Namaskara. The name comes from Sanskrit words “hasta” meaning hand, and “ut”, meaning intense, “tan” meaning stretch and “asana”, which means yoga or posture. In English, this asana is referred to as raised arms pose. It is, therefore, an intense backward stretch practised as the second and eleventh pose of surya namaskara.1 

2) Which chakras are activated by Hasta Uttanasana? 

The practice of Hasta Uttanasana helps in activating Vishuddhi chakra. The activation of this chakra helps in unleashing freedom and happiness.  

3) How to do Hasta Uttanasana? 

First, stand in Tadasana; stand straight with your feet firm and aligned at shoulder level. Arms are in a relaxed position on either side. Next, inhale and slowly raise and stretch both arms above your head. Both of your arms will be shoulder-width apart. Keep the legs straight and stiff. Next, bend your arms, head and upper body slightly backward. While bending, ensure you do not overstrain your upper body while bending. Breathe out, and slowly come back to the initial position.2 

4) Which mantra is enchanted during the practice of Hasta Uttanasana? 

The mantra recited during the practice of Hasta Uttanasana is “Om Ravaye Namaha”, a salutation to the shining one, praised by everyone.2 

5) Does Hasta Uttanasana benefit obesity? 

Yes, the practice of Hasta Uttanasana may benefit weight loss and, thus, may potentially benefit obesity. However, you should not rely on this asana alone and consult your doctor for the proper management of obesity. 

References: 

  1. Taneja et al. “Yoga and health.” Indian journal of community medicine: official publication of Indian Association of Preventive & Social Medicine vol. 39, 2 (2014): 68-72. doi:10.4103/0970-0218.132716. available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4067931/ 
  1. B.K.S Iyengar. Light on Yoga. The bible of Modern Yoga-Its Philosophy and practice-by the world London: Thorsons.1966; 108-109. Available at:   https://mantrayogameditation.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Light-on-Yoga_-The-Bible-of-Modern-Yoga-PDFDrive.com-.pdf  
  1. Swami Satyananda Saraswati. Asana Prayanama Mudra Bandha. Yoga Publication trust Bihar: India.1996; 201-203. Available at:  https://thelonerider.com/pdf/asana_pranayama_mudra_bandha.pdf  
  1. Bhutkar et al. “How effective is sun salutation in improving muscle strength, general body endurance and body composition?” Asian journal of sports medicine vol. 2, 4 (2011): 259-66. doi:10.5812/asjsm.34742. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3289222/ 
  1. Venkatesh et al. “Insights on Surya namaskar from its origin to application towards health.” Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine vol. 13, 2 (2022): 100530. doi:10.1016/j.jaim.2021.10.002. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8814407/ 
  1. Balayogi et al. “A comparative study of slow and fast Suryanamaskar on physiological function.” International journal of yoga vol. 4, 2 (2011): 71-6. doi:10.4103/0973-6131.85489. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3193657/ 

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