Asana of the Week: Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana

Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana (Upward Facing Intense West Stretch) is an elegant balance that strengthens the abdominals and hip flexors, lengthens the hamstrings, and improves mental focus.

When first learning the mechanics of the posture, you may enter from seated.  Bend your knees, balance just behind your sitting bones, and take your feet.  Straighten the legs as much as you can.  Take a preparatory inhalation to lengthen the spine, then exhale as you pull the legs to the body.  Gaze to the feet.  Do not overuse the arms.  Rather, work to consciously engage the psoas and actively reach upward through the torso, extending from the very base of the spine.  

When you're ready, you can learn to roll up into Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana from a variation of Halasana.  From Halasana, tuck your toes and take your feet.  Exhale completely here and prepare to use the bandhas to control the roll.  With the inhalation, give yourself a little push off with your toes and use the breath and bandhas to control the momentum.  Come to balance in the preparatory position pictured below, then exhale into the final posture.


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  1. Hey,

    Your uddiyana bandha in the preparation picture is really impressive!


  2. Megan, I am entering this pose from Navasan. For the time being I can do the bandha near my calf muscle. I cannot do it on the ankle as shown by you. Is that ok?

    CA. Abhishek Sanyal

    1. Hi Abhishek,

      Yes, grab wherever you can. That is perfectly fine.

  3. Thanks Megan.

    CA. Abhishek Sanyal