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Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
(Upward Facing Dog Pose)

How to perform Upward Facing Dog Pose

Point your toes backward and activate your arm muscles as you bend your back and lift the front of your body up off the floor. Keep your hips and thighs firmly grounded. Open your chest and shoulders.

What is Urdhva Mukha Svanasana?

Upward Facing Dog pose is one of the first backbend poses taught. It may be incorporated into a sun salutation sequence or as an initial pose in a longer backbend sequence. The pose may be done from the ground up or working with gravity from Adho Mukha Svanasana as typically seen in Vinyasa yoga.

Working from the ground brings you more consciously into the actions of the metatarsals and the legs, while working from Adho Mukha, enables a greater release of the hips and often enables more lift in the pose. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana brings into play all the elements of the more advanced backbends and as such is a good pose to spend time on, working precisely into each aspect of the pose.

When to use Urdhva Mukha Svanasana?

Many students find this pose effortful as it requires a certain degree of opening in the arms and flexion of the wrists to achieve the upward lift as well as deep work in the thoracic spine to open the chest forward. Practicing the pose regularly helps to build this strength and flexibility. The pose requires a lengthening of the lumbar spine and a broadening of the pelvic rim, and it can be beneficial to those suffering from lower back pain.

As with other “baby backbends”, this pose helps to strengthen the back muscles and bring an awareness of the separation between the pelvic rim and the rib cage.