Upward Facing Dog Pose is our Pose of the Week.
Upward-Facing Dog Pose is a back-bending yoga posture and will challenge you to lift and open your chest. Its Sanskrit name is Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (OORD-vuh MOO-kuh shvan-AHS-uh-nuh) — It is one of the positions in the traditional Sun Salutation sequence and its name comes from four Sanskrit words:
- “Urdhva” — meaning “upward”
- “Mukha” — meaning “face”
- “Svana” — meaning “dog”
- “Asana” — meaning “pose”
How do to Upward Facing Dog Pose:
- Begin by lying face-down on the floor with your legs extended behind you, spread a few inches apart. The tops of your feet should rest on the mat — do not tuck your toes, as this can crunch your spine.
- Place your hands on the floor alongside your body, next to your lower ribs. Point your fingers to the top of the mat and hug your elbows in close to your ribcage.
- Inhale as you press through your hands firmly into the floor. Straighten your arms, lifting your torso and your legs a few inches off the floor.
- Press down firmly through the tops of your feet. Strongly engage your leg muscles to keep your thighs lifted off the floor.
- Keep your elbows pressed alongside your body. Drop your shoulders away from your ears and lift your chest toward the ceiling.
- Draw your shoulders back and your heart forward, but do not crunch your neck. If your neck is flexible, tilt your head to gaze toward the sky. Otherwise, keep your head neutral and your gaze directly forward.
- Your thighs should be firm and turned slightly inward. Your arms should also be firm, slightly turned so that each elbow crease faces forward.
- Only straighten your arms as much as your body allows. Deepen the stretch as your practice advances, but avoid straining to achieve a deeper backbend.
- Firm your shoulder blades into your upper back and puff the side ribs forward. Keep your elbows hugged in to your sides. Broaden across your collarbones and lift through the top of your sternum. Look straight ahead or tip the head back slightly. Glide the tops of your shoulders away from your ears. Distribute the length of the backbend evenly through your entire spine.
- Hold the pose for up to 30 seconds, breathing easily. To release, exhale as you slowly release back to the floor. Turn your head to the right, resting your left ear on the mat. Relax your arms alongside your body. Repeat the pose up to five times.