[Pose Of the Week] Upward-Facing Supported Intense West Stretch Pose (Intermediate)

Challenge your balance, flexibility, and strength with Upward-Facing Supported Intense West Stretch Pose…

Upward-Facing Supported Intense West Stretch Pose (Urdhva Mukha Salamba Paschimottanasana) – also known as Upward-Facing Supported Western Intense Pose, or Upward Facing Seated Forward Bend is an intermediate-level yoga pose that builds core strength and balance.

According to Yogapedia.com,

In yoga, the front of the body is called the eastern side and the back of the body is the west; hence, the name of this posture refers to the intense stretch of the back of the body, from the hamstrings up the spine to the neck.

This seated balance pose offers a challenge for the abdominals as well as the legs, lower back, and shoulder muscles, and a deep stretch for the hamstrings. It also strengthens the hip flexors, stretches and aligns the spine, and is believed to stimulate the internal organs and improve digestion through improving circulation in the pelvic area. It is also thought to help calm the mind and reduce stress and anxiety. Traditionally, it is believed to stimulate the Sacral and Navel chakras.

This pose is traditionally practiced in both Hatha and Ashtanga yoga, and it is also a good pose to do during a cool-down sequence after practicing Vinyasa yoga poses such as inversions and backbends.

Be sure your spinal and core muscles, as well as your hamstrings, are fully warmed up before performing this pose. Women who are pregnant, or those with hamstring, hip or back injuries or any recent surgery to the stomach or internal organs should avoid this one.

How to Do Upward-Facing Supported Intense West Stretch Pose:

  1. Start in Upward Seated Straddle Pose, then slowly pull the tummy in and, keeping the spine straight and upright, bring the feet together while bringing the legs close to your chest.
  2. Exhale completely, bringing the face close to the knees while stretching the legs upwards.
  3. Balance on the sit bones as you pull the hips upwards, engaging the pelvic floor muscles.
  4. You can hold onto the ankles or legs for the full version of the pose, or, for the supported version, extend your arms and rest your fingertips on the floor in front of your sit bones to help keep your balance.
  5. Hold the pose for about 4-6 deep breaths.
  6. Then release and gently bring the legs down and relax in Dandasana (Staff Pose).
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