Hasta Uttanasana - opening the heart to the world.
Hasta Uttanasana is a raised arm pose that expands the chest and rib cage helping in full intake of oxygen. Hasta Uttanasana is done as the 2nd pose and the 11th pose of Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutation).
Benefits of Hasta Uttanasana:
It works on abdominal organs and muscles.
As you stretch backward in Hasta Uttanasana, you can enjoy the the benefits of raised arms pose on the digestive system. This pose as a backbend stretches the abdominal organs and muscles which toning them and stimulating the functioning of abdominal organs, especially the digestive organs.
It expands the chest and the rib cage resulting in full intake of oxygen.
As we perform this pose, the arms are raised up, the spine is curved due to bending , helping to open and expand the rib cage and the heart. That creates space in the chest and allows you to take deeper breaths increasing oxygen flow in the body necessary for health and vitality.
When we do this pose during the Sun Salutation, we raise the hands to salute the source of energy– the sun that opens the heart to receive the divine energy.
It tones the back muscles.
Hasta Uttanasana is a counteractive posture to forward bends. The different variations of the pose (gentle or deep backbending) gives a nice stretch to the muscles of the lower and upper back.
The bending helps in releasing the knots and toning the muscles for a healthier back. It contributes to improving the flexibility and the health of the spine.
It calms the brain.
As every asana (yoga posture) Hasta Uttanasana releases stress. As the chest gets expanded in the pose, the breathing allows oxygen, nutrients and blood to flow more freely. The increase in breathing and blood flow to the brain helps in activating the parasympathetic nervous system (more on that soon!) , which makes you feel at ease and calm.
It balances the Anahata chakra.
The opening of the chest activates and balances the Anahata Chakra(Heart Chakra). Anahata is the centre of bliss, love, harmony, empathy, unity, compassion, and more. When this chakra is stimulated, you can access its potential in its full glory.
Make the backbend as gentle or as deep as it feels good for you. Do not overbend. It's good to follow this pose with a forward standing pose Padahastasana.