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Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog)


A look at how to do Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog) in the Iyengar method.

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog)

What is Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (upward-facing dog)?

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 – down.

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 (upward-facing dog)?

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. The practice of the pose 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 the 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.