Right Way to do Upward-Facing Dog Yoga (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

Right Way to do Upward-Facing Dog Yoga (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

Upward Facing Dog or Urdhva Mukha Svanasana is one of the most common yoga poses, and hence one of the most important ones.

This is a great yoga pose associated with more power that awakens your upper-body, strengthens and provides a good stretch to your chest and abdomen. You should know that it is also one of the most important poses in Vinyasa flow sequencing. This means it is very important to get this pose right in order to avoid injury and get the benefits.

Usually, it is also suggested to an experienced practitioner to try this pose once in a while to ensure they can get this foundational yoga pose right.

Some common challenges faced in this Upward Facing Dog

  • You may take it as a bad news that misalignment in one part of your body can often trigger a domino effect for the complete pose. However, the good part is that you can bring your entire body into the right alignment by just focusing on a few key alignment cues that yoga doers fight with.
  • When practicing the pose, you may notice that a major part is to keep the shoulders from creeping up towards your ears – this is the most challenging one. Actually, this happens when you put your entire weight onto your wrists, rather than pressing through the hands. You should always press through your hands to create the length and the sensation of the lift, which is important here.
  • Another challenge in this upward facing pose is to engage your legs and lift them up. The knee caps and pelvis sag keep touching the mat when you do not engage your legs and press into the tops of your feet.

Press into your hands – it is important

Pushing through your hands lengthens your body while bringing your shoulders, elbows and wrists into alignment.

Never put weight onto your wrists

What happens when you bring the entire weight onto your wrists? It becomes more painful to maintain your pose. In addition, it also causes your chest to close off, from the slightly diagonal line with shoulders, wrists and elbows, the neck to disappear, and shoulder blades to pop out.

Lift your legs when trying this pose

Press the tops of your feet actively onto the mat to lift your kneecaps, and energize and engage your quads. Doing this brings strength and length into your legs for lifting it up.

Do not rest your legs on the mat

The right way to do Upward Facing Dog pose is to actively lift your legs. Do not let your feet rest on the mat.

To sum up:

Do this:

  • Keep shoulders away from ears
  • Chest open
  • You may bend your head back, given that it feels comfortable to your neck.
  • Gaze of the third eye
  • Press into the hands to lift your body up
  • Keep knees off the floor
  • Keep the top of the feet pressed onto the mat to lift your legs up
  • Pull shoulder blades toward one another and down the back

Not that:

  • Gaze not lifted to the third eye
  • Legs and tops of the feet resting on the mat
  • All the weight put on the wrists, and putting strain on the low back
  • Placing shoulders by ears
  • Chest starts to cave in due to shoulders rounding forward
Exercise and Yoga