Upward-Facing Dog Pose
Sanskrit: Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
Image of Maggie Anderson taken by Maggie Anderson
You may commonly use Upward-Facing Dog pose during the traditional Sun Salutation Sequence. This pose is great for:
- Improves posture
- Strengthens the spine, arms,
- Stretches chest and lungs, shoulders, and abdomen
- Firms the buttocks
- Stimulates abdominal organs
- Helps relieve mild depression, fatigue, and sciatica
- Therapeutic for asthma
Directions on how to come into the pose:
Lie prone on your belly. Stretching your legs back and be on the tops of your feet. Slide your hands back by your lower rib cage hugging the elbows in towards your body. As you press into your hands and feet, the torso slightly forward, scoop forward so that your wrists are under your shoulders and simultaneously lift your head, neck, chest and hips up and perhaps also the knees are off the mat (when you’re ready). Press your hands into the floor with straight arms as you lift, keeping the arms firm and turned out so the elbow creases face forward. Keep the thighs firm and slightly turned inward.
Actively draw the shoulders down away from the ear so that they are not “turtling” the neck. Firm shoulder blades against the back with side ribs forward. Lift through the top of the sternum, avoiding pushing the front ribs forward. This gentle backbend needs balance in distribution throughout the entire spine. Elongate your neck but try not to look straight up. Imagine the orange on the back or your neck so that you aren’t crunching or compressing the neck too much. There should be space to elongate and not crush the “orange”.
Hold for 15 to 30 seconds utilizing slow deep breaths. And on your exhalation release back to floor.
Another way to transition into this pose: Often we will come into this pose from Chaturanga Dandasana. So from Chaturanga, inhale and scoop or carve your chest forward into Updog, directing that energy out from your heart. Be sure your wrists are under your shoulders and knees off the mat, when you’re ready. Pull your shoulders back and open your collarbones. Engage your legs but relax your gluteal muscles.
When not to do this pose or to modify/Contraindications:
You may need avoid or modify this pose if you have back injury, Carpel tunnel syndrome, headache or are pregnant. You may modify here with Corbra or Sphinx pose, especially if you have wrist issues. Another beginner’s tip, to especially properly align the shoulders, take your hands onto blocks and practice in this variation.
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