Upward-Facing Intense West Stretch

Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Upward-Facing Intense West Stretch Mean?

Upward-facing intense west stretch is a seated balancing yoga pose that provides an intense hamstring stretch. This posture is a more challenging variation of seated forward bend (paschimottanasana), which is one of the 12 basic postures of Hatha yoga and is also part of the Ashtanga primary series.

To practice upward-facing intense west stretch, the yogi balances on his/her sit bones with the legs stretched straight toward the sky and the hands holding on to the feet or legs.

Upward-facing intense west stretch is also known by its Sanskrit name, urdhva mukha paschimottanasana.


Yogapedia Explains Upward-Facing Intense West Stretch

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.

In addition to the hamstring stretch, this pose offers the following benefits:

  • Strengthens the abdominals, hip flexors and lower back
  • Lengthens the spine
  • Stimulates the internal organs, particularly the liver, kidneys and reproductive organs
  • Improves digestion
  • Calms the mind and reduces stress

Yogis with hamstring, hip or back injuries should avoid this pose.

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