Urdhva Mukha svanasana, or the upward facing dog yoga pose, is one of the best poses in yoga because it allows the entire body to stretch, especially the spine and shoulders.
It is also great for strengthening the arms, legs, and core muscles, and it improves flexibility in the hands, wrists, and feet.
In this guide to the urdhva mukha svanasana or upward facing dog pose, you’ll learn how to get into this pose and what variations you can try that might better suit your body type. Let’s get started!
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What is Upward Facing Dog Pose?
The upward-facing dog is a yoga pose that strengthens arms, shoulders, and wrists while stretching chest and back muscles. People with neck injuries are often advised to avoid it; otherwise, there are few risks associated with it.
It’s also known as Urdhva Mukha Svanasana in Sanskrit. The name translates to the upward-facing dog, although it’s sometimes referred to as dog pose.
It can be used as part of a sequence of poses for warm-ups and cool-downs at the beginning and end of class or as part of your home practice.
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How To Do Upward Facing Dog?
- Lay down on a flat surface on your belly and keep both your hands beside your lower ribs.
- Keep both your elbows near your ribcage.
- Start lifting your torso up by generating force from your wrists.
- Your legs and hands will remain 3 to 4 inches above the floor.
You will feel a good stretch in your upper body. If it feels too challenging to hold for more than 5 seconds, lower yourself down onto all fours and rest until you’re ready to try again. Practice at least three times every day! Hold each time for longer stretches (about 20 seconds) each time you practice until you can hold it comfortably for 3 minutes at a time without straining.
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Benefits of Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
- Helps stretch muscles in the arms, chest, shoulders and back
- Improves breathing
- Builds abdominal and leg muscles
- Improves balance
- Boosts immunity
- Tones buttocks and thighs
- Relieves stress
- Stretch hamstrings
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The Top 5 Benefits of Upward Facing Dog Pose
There are several different kinds of intense backbends in the yoga world, including the Upward-Facing Dog Pose. This pose is actually very accessible to beginners as well as more advanced practitioners. In this blog post, we’ll break down the top five benefits of Upward Facing Dog Pose to see if it’s right for you!
Builds Core Strength
If you struggle with back pain or other issues that arise from prolonged sitting, the upward dog pose can help build core strength and relieve pain.
The exercise involves a lot of flexing and extending of your spine, as well as traction along with your spinal discs. It’s beneficial for people with chronic back problems because it can stretch out muscles that are difficult to reach.
Tones Chest and Shoulder Muscles
Often called a strength builder, upward facing dog pose is one of yoga’s most common poses. The movement engages chest and shoulder muscles as you support your weight on your arms and work toward lifting your feet off the floor.
While it may not sound too difficult, anyone who has done upward facing dog can tell you that it’s actually a challenging pose. But don’t worry—you only need to practice a few times per week to see its health benefits!
Strengthens Upper Back
Because it is a supported backbend, an upward facing dog strengthens your upper back. By holding upward facing dog, you will strengthen your shoulder blades and build strength in your arms and shoulders as well.
This pose also helps to relieve stress from your neck by stretching and lengthening that area.
Opens Shoulders, Wrists, Hips, and Ankles
Urdhva mukha svanasana opens and stretches your entire body, especially your shoulders, wrists, hips, and ankles. If you have tightness in any of these areas, it can improve joint mobility and reduce pain.
Urdhva mukha svanasana also boosts spinal strength by targeting muscles along your backside. By holding urdhva mukha svanasana for 15-30 seconds at a time—gradually working up to 2 minutes—you can get stronger bones and better posture.
The hands and feet are elevated in an upward facing dog, which improves balance and coordination. This is an excellent pose for athletes looking to improve their performance or anyone who wants to improve their ability to balance their bodies for more extended periods.
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Urdhva Mukha Svanasana Contraindications
If you have low blood pressure, are pregnant, or have weak wrists and shoulders, practice Urdhva Mukha Svanasana only after taking the doctor’s advice. Those with neck injuries should use caution with the full expression of Urdhva Mukha Svanasana.
Those who experience discomfort in their wrists during other yoga poses should also avoid Urdhva Mukha Svanasana without proper alignment.
Finally, those suffering from digestive issues can aggravate them by performing extended periods of Urdhva Mukha Svanasana.
Before attempting to do it on your own, work closely with an experienced instructor on aligning your body correctly so that you get maximum benefit while avoiding injury.
Ans. In Sanskrit, Urdhva means upward, mukha means face, and svana means dog – so Urdhva Mukha Svanasana literally translates to Upward Facing Dog Pose. This challenging posture stretches and strengthens your entire body from head to toe. Not only does it stretch your chest and shoulders, but it also opens up your hips, abdomen and thighs as well. In addition to all of that, Urdhva Mukha Svanasana also increases flexibility in your spine by strengthening both sides of your torso at once.
Ans. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana strengthens your hamstrings and arms while opening up your chest and shoulders.
Ans. How long you should hold each of these poses is entirely up to you, but try not to stay in Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana) for more than a minute or two at first. You can start with a hold of 20 to 30 seconds in the initial days.
Ans. Another name for Upward-Facing Dog is Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. It is a tremendous physical and mental challenge, which can be easily mastered if you have a strong upper body.
Ans. Both Bhujangasana and Urdhva Mukha Svanasana looks same but they are not. In bhujangasana, the individual body uses the floor to lift the body. In contrast, in Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, the power is generated through the wrists, and the body should not touch the floor.