Urdhva Prasarita Padasana is a mouthful. So is upward extended feet pose. Instead let’s say L shape. This pose and its variations are a great way to support our January intention: have courage to try again. This is because it strengthens the core, tone’s the abdominal organs and stimulates the third chakra.
“According to yoga tradition, the subtle body is a part of you that you can’t see or touch—it’s where your energy flows, which is why it’s also referred to as the energy body. There are seven key points in the subtle body that are thought to be vortexes of energy, known as chakras. When energy becomes blocked in a chakra, it triggers physical, mental, or emotional imbalances that manifest in symptoms such as anxiety, lethargy, or poor digestion.”
A strong 3rd chakra helps give you courage to exercise your will and realize your intentions. A strong core helps you stand taller and move through life with ease and grace. This is a great pose to help you achieve your goals because there are many variations allowing beginners and seasoned yogi to find a version that they enjoy. Let’s explore these variations.
- L Shape. The first version of this pose is simply lying on the back with the legs extended and the feet pressing away from you. The key is to engage the core and press the legs away from you.
- Dynamic L Shape. You can add movement by moving your legs in a 90 degree arc from straight up until the feet are a few inches off the ground. Keep the core engaged and press through the feet. Avoid this if you feel discomfort in the lower back.
- U shape. You can strengthen the muscles of the upper core by also pressing the hands away from you. I like to picture my hands and feet trying to keep a heavy weight off me. This helps me engage the arms, legs and most importantly the core.
- Dynamic U Shape. This super challenging variation moves both the arms and legs through a 90 degree arc. It strengthens and tones the entire abdomen. Start slow and with a few repetitions at first. Be aware of your body and stop if you feel and discomfort. Most importantly ensure that you are using your core to move your limbs instead of using momentum. If you use momentum the pose might feel easier but you won’t be building the desired strength in your core.
- L shape with block. Placing a block on your feet helps you engage the core by rooting through the feet. You can also use a blanket. The weight of the blanket will help keep your hips on the mat. Pull the toes towards you as you root through the four corners of the feet and use the core to keep the legs extended.
- U Shape with block. A block or blanket on the hands and feet help enhance the core strengthening power of this pose. It also helps you visualize pressing the hands and feet away from you by actually having an object to press into. If you need help choosing a block check out my post on blocks.
- Dynamic U shape with block. I like passing the block from hands to feet and back again. It’s a fun way to strengthen the core. Check out the short video below to see how I do that.
There are so many variation of this pose that you’re sure to find out that works for you. Try them all and let me know how it goes. You might even invent your own version of this pose.
What is your favorite version of Urdhva Prasarita Padasana?