Upward Facing Dog – Urdhva Mukha Svanasana was one of the poses I struggled with most, when I started doing yoga. It’s a back bend and back bends don’t come very natural to me.
After almost two years of yoga I started practicing Ashtanga. I set sequence where the poses are linked together with half sun salutations. Upward Facing Dog is part of those Sun Salutations. It meant an incredible amounts of back bends every practice. Slowly my back started to open up. Now, years later, it’s still not very open, but if I compare it how ‘I moved’ when I just started out it’s a world of difference.
Because it didn’t come naturally I avoided back bends for a long time in my own practice and only did a limited amount in my teaching. But by avoiding them, my back won’t open up more. That’s why now-a-days there is almost in every self practice I do a back bend. Only by facing our problems, we can get better. Not by walking around them.
Upward facing dog is a bit of a tricky one, because of the alignment. As yoga teacher and massage therapist I have a lot of people coming to me with yoga injuries. Upward facing dog is often partly responsible for it if you don’t press yourself ‘out of your shoulders’, but are ‘hanging in them’.
How to do Upward Facing Dog – Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
- Start out in plank posture
- Lower yourself down to low plank (Chaturanga dandasana)
- Roll forward over your toes (or flip your feet) so the tops of your those are resting on the floor. At the same time bring your head and chest up, opening your chest. You’ll be resting now only on your wrists and tops of your feet. Your knees should be off the floor
- Make sure you press yourself out of your shoulders
- Look slightly up, but don’t collapse your head backwards
- Stay in the pose for 30 seconds up until a minute. BEnd your elbows and lower your torso down onto the floor
Benefits Upward Facing Dog – Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
- Rejuvenates and strenghtens the spine
- Makes the lower part of the back more flexible
- Realigns vertebra
- Makes the lungs more flexible
- Stimulates blood circulation in the pelvic area
Contraindications Upward Facing Dog – Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
- Back injuries
- Wrist injuries
- Ankle injuries
Source: Light on Yoga - BKS Iyengar Key muscles of Yoga – Ray Long Ashtanga – David Swenson Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha – Swami Satyananda Saraswati