How to do Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

Learning how to do urdhva mukha svanasana or upward facing dog is important because it is part of many vinyasa flows. It is a back-bending posture that you will return to again and again in your practice.  This posture brings you into spinal extension while lifting the thighs off of the ground. If you need help lifting up off the ground you can practice a modified up dog with blocks.

Let’s look at the benefits and contraindications for the pose before practicing it.

Benefits of urdhva mukha svanasana

There are many benefits of upward facing dog. Here are a few:

  • Strengthen back muscles
  • Stretches and strengthens the wrists
  • Encourages articulation and length in the spine
  • Opens the chest
  • Stimulates the internal organs
  • Improves posture

Contraindications for urdhva mukha svanasana

Not everyone should practice this pose. Let’s look at the contraindications for upward facing dog.

  • Wrist injury
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Low back injuries
  • Shoulder problems

If you are pregnant, you should avoid this pose.

How to do urdhva mukha svanasana (Upward Facing Dog)

Lay face down on your mat. Your legs are active and straight out behind you. Engage your quadriceps and lift your kneecaps off the ground.

Suck your belly in and engage your core.

Place your hands on the floor next to your body at the center of your ribcage. Your fingers are facing forward.

Lift your chest up and squeeze your elbows in toward your body.

Keep your pelvic floor and core strong as you inhale and lift your hips and thighs off the ground by straightening your elbows.

Don’t squeeze into your back. Instead, lift the pelvis up and forward.

Send the center of your chest up and forward.

Keep your glutes relaxed.

Watch this short tutorial with Kino to better understand how to do the posture.

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