Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana

Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana Mean?

Urdhva mukha paschimottanasana is a seated asana that requires balance and provides an intense hamstring stretch. The name comes from the Sanskrit, urdhva, meaning “upward”; mukha, meaning “face”; paschimo, meaning “west” (referring to the back of the body); uttana, meaning “intense stretch”; and asana, meaning “pose” or “posture.”

To practice this asana, the yogi balances on his/her sit bones with the legs stretched straight toward the sky and the hands holding onto the feet or legs.

Urdhva mukha paschimottanasana is also known in English as upward-facing intense west stretch.


Yogapedia Explains Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana

Urdhva mukha paschimottanasana is a more challenging variation of paschimottanasana (seated forward bend), which is part of the Ashtanga primary series and one of the basic postures of Hatha yoga.

Traditionally, urdhva mukha paschimottanasana is believed to open the svadisthana (spleen or sacral) chakra, which is associated with intimacy, enjoyment and creation. A healthy svadisthana chakra also ensures self-acceptance and comfort in relationships.

In addition to its physical benefits, the pose calms the mind, reduces stress and is thought to be therapeutic for mild depression. As it lengthens the spine, this asana frees the yogi from the past, so negative experiences or encumbrances no longer have a hold on him/her.

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