Pose of the month – Upward facing dog

We all love doing up and down dogs in a yoga class. But there is a lot more to Updog than what meets the eye. Let’s explore this pose in some detail.

The real name of this pose is “Urdhva Mukha Swanasana”. When broken down ‘Urdhva’ = upward, ‘mukha’ = face, ‘swana’ = dog, ‘asana’ = pose

Urdhva mukha swanasana (Upward facing dog)

Urdhva mukha swanasana (Upward facing dog)

Benefits:

  • Rejuvenates the spine – beneficial for people with stiff backs, lumbago, sciatica and slipped or prolapsed discs of the spine
  • Lungs gain elasticity
  • Improves blood circulation to the pelvic region
  • Builds awareness in legs and arms
  • Strengthens the arms
  • Helps to open the shoulder joint
  • Stretches the front of the body
  • Keeps the ankle joints healthy

Technique

  1. Start in prone position with palms on the floor by the sides of the chest and toes pointing back
  2. Inhale, raise the head and chest up, straightening the arms and locking the elbows
  3. Lift the pelvis, thighs and knees away from the floor; the weight of the body should reston the palms and on the instep of the feet
  4. Keeping elbows locked, roll shoulders back and lift the chest further and bring it forward and through the arms
  5. Lengthening the back of the neck, keep the gaze forward and slightly above eye level.
  6. To come out of the pose, bend the elbows and lower the trunk back to the floor

Mistakes

  • Shoulders not rolling back
  • Elbows bending
  • Palms not spreading
  • Weight rolling to outer edge of the hand
  • Legs together
  • Body not lifting
  • Chest not expanding

 

Modifications

 If wrists, elbows or shoulders are weak and cannot bear the weight, turn palms out away from the body; with time this will build strength, which will develop the ability to do the full classical pose

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