Upward-Facing Dog | Tighten the Glutes and Give Your Arms a Good Stretch

Upward-Facing Dog, also known as Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Urdhva means upward, Mukha means face, and van means dog) in Sanskrit, is a powerful pose in yoga that strengthens the upper-body and stretches the chest and abdomen.

Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

A common pose performed during a Vinyasa flow sequence, upward-facing dog is also an important position practiced in the traditional sun salutation sequence.

The upward-facing-dog is a beginner-friendly pose that comprises a deep backbend and promotes strength in the arms and shoulders.

Upward-Facing Dog Directions:

Follow these simple steps to help you master the upward-facing dog technique:

  • Lie on your mat with your belly on the floor and your legs stretched back and the tops of your feet touching the mat. Your arms will be on either side of you.
  • Bend your elbows and spread your arms beside your waist so that your forearms are relatively perpendicular to the floor.
  • As you inhale, press your inner hands firmly into the floor as if you were trying to push yourself forward. As you straighten your arms, simultaneously lift your torso and legs a few inches off the floor
  • Keep your thighs firm and slightly turned inward. Your arms will be firk and turned out while the elbow faces forward.
  • Press your tailbone toward the pubis and lift the pubis up and towards the navel. Make sure your shoulder blades are firm against the back.
  • Without pushing the front ribs forward, lift through the top of the sternum and shift your gaze forward. You have the option to tip your head back a little, making sure not to strain the neck.
  • Hold this pose for 15 to 30 seconds and focus on your breathing.
  • Exhale to release and lower to the floor.

Upward-Facing Dog Variations:

There are various variations of the yoga pose that can either challenge you further or provide more comfort while performing the upward-facing dog pose.

Variation 1:

Place a block under your hands and tuck your toes as you perform the pose. This variation will give you an added challenge to the pose.

Variation 2:

If you’re looking to level up, twist your leg and bring it to the side of the opposite wrist. If you are starting from the right side, open to bend and twist your leg to bring it towards your left wrist and hold for a few seconds. Repeat this twist on the left side to even out the sides.

Benefits of Upward-Facing Dog:

Besides being a good warm-up pose to stretch the upper body and strengthen the arms and shoulders, upward-facing dog comes with numerous health benefits that include opening up the abdominals muscles and stimulating the internal organs.

Added health benefits of upward-facing dog include:

Upward-Facing Dog Precautions:

If you are pregnant, make sure to consult your doctor before engaging in any types of poses or strenuous exercise.

It is best to avoid this pose if you are currently experiencing the following conditions:

  • Back injury
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Severe headaches

Upward-Facing Dog Follow-Up Poses:

Upward-facing dog is a good stretching technique to practice before engaging in strenuous exercise or different types of yoga sequences.

Some follow up poses for upward-facing dog include:

  • Urdhva Mukha Svanasana will help you learn to lift the chest in poses like Tadasana and Virasana
  • Backbends
  • Downward-Facing Dog

Quick FAQs

1. How does upward-facing dog impact your body?

Upward-Facing Dog can strengthen your upper body and stimulates the abdominal muscles. Added benefits of this pose are mentioned in the article above.

2. How can you practice upward-facing dog?

Following the steps mentioned above can help you practice the upward-facing dog technique. You can also consult your yoga practitioner for more information and guidance on how to practice this pose with the correct posture.

3. What parts of the body does upward-facing dog stretch?

Upward-facing dog stretches and promotes strength in the arms and shoulders.

Updated by Siya Rajan on 05/25/2018

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Editors, Y. (2007, August 28). Upward-Facing Dog Pose. Retrieved from http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/upward-facing-dog/

Upward Facing Dog Pose. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.tummee.com/yoga-poses/upward-facing-dog-pose