Upward Facing Dog
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
Urdhva = upward
Mukha = face
Svana = dog
Asana = pose
Strengthens the legs and glutes
Stretches the groin, legs, ankles, shoulders, arms, and chest
1. Start on your belly with your back legs extended a few inches apart. Allow the tops of your feet to rest on the mat.
2. Rest your hands down by your ribs with your palms face down. Keep your elbows hugged into your body.
3. Press firmly into your hands as you lift up and begin to straighten the arms. Straighten your arms as far as is comfortable for you. Keep your chest open and broaden through your top shoulders.
4. Drop your shoulders down and away from your ears.
5. Engage your thigh muscles and lift your legs a few inches off the ground.
6. Keep the tops of your feet pressed to the mat.
7. Begin to tilt back slightly coming into a gentle backbend. Go only as far as is comfortable for you.
8. Your head can either gaze forward softly or up towards the sky depending on neck flexibility.
9. Hold for several breaths before releasing down to the ground.
Teaching Cues To Use
Keep your shoulders down your back
Press down and up through the tops of your feet
Keep your wrists straight as you lengthen up
Pull a line of energy up through your rib cage
Engage your abs
Keep your chest lifted and open towards the sky
Draw your ribs forward and up
Lift your legs and knees off the ground
Keep your hands shoulder width apart
Spread your fingers wide on the mat
Keep length in your spine
Injuries And Modifications
• If you have students with severe wrist, knee, or lower back injuries, do not do this pose or practice mindfully with caution.
• For knee injuries and issues, ask students to keep their legs on the ground and focus on lifting up through their arms and chest. Another option is to bring a blanket or bolster under the knees.
• For wrist issues, elevate the wrists by making fists for wrists or by bringing a folded blanket or mat underneath the wrists. You can also use a yoga wedge to elevate the wrists.
• For neck issues, ask students to keep their head gaze forward and soft.
• For shoulder and back issues, offer Cobra pose instead. Cobra is also a good option for students who are new to the practice and need to build up arm and upper back strength for Upward Facing Dog.
Things To Look For
Shoulders are out of line
Neck is strained
Chest is collapsed
Arms are not hugged into the body
Hands are not directly under the ribs