Upward Facing Dog

Upward-Facing Dog Pose is also known as Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, in Sanskrit or called “up dog” for short. Up dog is an important pose to learn as this backbend is one of the postures that is practiced during Sun Salutation Sequences. This feel-good heart opener stretches your abs, lungs & shoulders, in addition to your chest. This pose is also great for building strength in your arms, back, butt & wrists.

Step-By-Step Breakdown

  1. Lay down on your belly, stretching legs behind you, and pressing the tops of your feet into the ground
  2. Bending your elbows, spread your fingers on the floor next to your waist
  3. On an inhale breath, press your palms into the floor and  straighten your arms, keeping them firm and turned outward (elbow creases face forward)
  4. Keeping your thighs firm and turned slightly inward, lift your legs a few inches off of the ground
  5.  If you have trouble keeping your legs strongly lifted, while hovering them over the ground, put a blanket underneath the top of your thighs for support
  6. Narrow your hip points as you press your tailbone forward 
  7. Lift through your heart, either looking straight up or tilting your head back slightly
  8. Lengthen down the back of your armpits, as if you were “tucking your shoulder blades into your back pocket”
  9. To get comfortable here, it can be helpful to raise each hand on a block 
  10. On an exhale, slowly release back down to the floor or push back into downward-facing dog

Key Takeaways

  • Press firmly into your hands to lift your body (use blocks if you need to!)
  • Tuck your shoulder blades down your back, “in your back pocket”
  • Press the top of your feet into the floor to lift your legs off of the mat (same here with the blanket!)
  • Breathe deeply, be here now, smile

What you seek is seeking you. – Rumi