(Urdhva Mukha Svanasana): Techniques, Benefits, Variations

Level – Beginner

Upward Facing Dog

(Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

Upward Facing Dog Pose Prep & Practice

1

Start by lying with your belly on the floor. Plant palms directly underneath the shoulders. Uncurl the toes, so that the tops of the feet are face down on the mat.

2

Engage your arms and core. Then use an inhalation to gently lift your torso forward and then up off of the ground. Begin to straighten the arms, as you move the collarbones back in space. Open up through the chest.
 

3

Bring a slight dip in the chin, so that it stays in line with the spine.

4

Thighs are active, find internal rotation to lift. Knees rise up off of the ground.
 

5

Evenly distribute weight through the hands pressing through the fingers, knuckles, and wrists. Take shoulders over elbows, elbows over wrists.

6

To come out of this posture, use an exhalation to slowly lower back down or to move to the next position.

Variations/Modifications

  • Place a block between your thighs to engage the legs 
  • Bring blocks under the palms 
  • Take Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) instead 
  • If you hyperextend in the elbows, micro bend them

Physical, Mental and Emotional Benefits

  • Helps improve posture
  • Increases spine flexibility
  • Strengthens the glutes, hamstrings, spinal extensors, rhomboids, and trapezius
  • Opens up the chest 
  • Builds strength in the core muscles

Contraindications

  • Wrist injury
  • Pregnancy
  • Neck or Low back injury, especially disc herniation

Thoughtful Sequencing

Mountain Pose (Tadasana), Extended Standing Pose (Urdhva Hastasana), Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana), Plank (Phalakasana), Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose), Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana), Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Child’s Pose (Balasana)

 

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