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4 Tips to Level Up Your Halfway Lift (Ardha Uttanasana)

ardha uttanasana asana halfway lift Aug 09, 2023

Halfway lift, or ardha uttanasana in sanskrit, is a transitional posture where you inhale and lengthen the spine before moving to a different posture. You’ll encounter halfway lifts most commonly in Sun Salutations, but because I am trained in Ashtanga Yoga you might also hear me cueing them to transition in and out of standing poses like Padangusthasana, and even the idea of them in seated poses like Janu Sirsasana. (Picture this: Inhale reach forward for the foot and lengthen the spine, exhale fold). 

Because halfway lift is a transitional pose that only happens for one breath, many students don’t study it formally. As a result, sometimes we get some bad habits in this pose. Luckily, after reading this you will understand what halfway lift is and is not, and how to modify it properly to best meet the needs of your body. 

First, you want an anterior tilt in the pelvis - think Beyonce, not Elvis. 

Second, draw the shoulder blades together to open your chest. Avoid rounding the upper back. 

Third, and probably the most misunderstood thing about a halfway lift: The spine can be parallel to the floor, but it doesn’t have to be, so long as it is lengthening from the hips to the crown of the head. Probably the reason it is misunderstood is because ardha uttanasana translates in English to halfway lift. Logically the halfway point between a forward fold and standing is with the spine parallel to the floor with the body at a 90 degree angle. But the placement of the spine really depends on what tradition of yoga you come from, and what feels good in your body. It’s as simple as that. Don’t ever let someone tell you that there is only one “correct” way to do this pose. 

Fourth, make sure the hands have contact with something - your shins, two blocks, a chair, the wall, the floor. Avoid letting the arms dangle in the air without a point of contact. This connects the chain of energy so that you have something to press into with the hands. By pressing down with the hands you can better retract the shoulders and leverage the spine longer. 

This YouTube video will show you plenty of examples. 


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