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Day 17 Urdhva Mukha Svanasana  

Upward-Facing Dog





Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (OORD-vuh MOO-kuh shvan-AHS-uh-nuh)

is a back-bending yoga posture that lengthens and strengthens the spine, torso, and arms. Its name comes from four Sanskrit words:

"Urdhva" — meaning "upward"

"Mukha" — meaning "face"

"Svana" — meaning "dog"

"Asana" — meaning "pose"

Upward-Facing Dog (also sometimes called "Upward Dog" or just "Up Dog") is an important part of Sun Salutations, and is often practiced many times during AshtangaVinyasa, and Power Yoga classes. It can be used as

a strength-builder and also as a step toward deeper backbends.

Upward-Facing Dog provides a deep stretch to the entire spine and front torso. Be careful not to force your body into the pose, seeking a deeper backbend. Instead, take it slowly and back off if you feel any pain or pinching sensations. 

There are two main differences to note between Cobra Pose and Upward-Facing Dog:

1. In Cobra, your hands are placed under your shoulders before you press up. In Upward Dog, your hands are placed along the lower ribs.

2. In Cobra, your pubis (the front of your pelvis) and the top of your thighs maintain contact with the floor. In Upward Dog, both the pelvis and thighs are lifted off the floor.

Upward-Facing Dog can benefit the whole body, when done correctly. Keep the following information in mind when practicing this pose:

Actively draw your shoulders away from the ears — do not hunch in the pose or collapse into your shoulders. Instead, glide your shoulder blades down toward your tailbone, drawing your side ribs forward. Broaden across your collarbones, press the tops of your shoulders away from your ears, and then lift through your sternum.

Keep your buttocks firm, but not hard. Instead, actively engage the muscles of your abdomen and back to lengthen and lift through the pose, while also

supporting your low back.

Press firmly down through the tops of your feet, pushing from the backs of your knees all the way through your heels. This will help lighten the pose. As you press through your feet, lift your sternum up and forward.


Upward-Facing Dog stretches the chest and spine, while strengthening the wrists, arms, and shoulders. By strengthening and opening the upper body and chest, it improves posture and can be therapeutic for asthma. Upward Dog creates suppleness in the back torso and abdomen, which stimulates the abdominal organs and improves digestion. It also firms the buttocks and thighs, helping to relieve sciatica. The backbend energizes and rejuvenates the body, providing relief from fatigue and mild depression.

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