Authentically Aligned: Upward-Facing Dog

Lauren Rudick
Authentically Aligned: Upward-Facing Dog

Most see Urdvha Mukha Svanasana or Upward-Facing Dog Pose as a transition pose between vinyasas.

While it is so often rushed through on the way to Downward-Facing Dog, but Upward Dog can be a juicy heart opener, a super strengthening backbend, and a great opportunity to be mindful when done thoughtfully.

Here’s what to remember for an authentically aligned Upward-Facing Dog.

  1. Keep your thighs engaged and lift the kneecaps with the strength of the quadriceps. Push your 10 toenails into the ground.
  2. Make sure your wrists are right under the shoulder heads. Roll the fronts of your shoulders away from the ears and bring the bottom tips of the shoulder blades down the back.
  3. Engage your lower abdominals to support the low back and gently scoop the belly button in and up, or imagine you’re wearing a pair of muscular underwear and pull up the front of that underwear.
  4. Keep the back of your neck long. It’s important to engage jalandhara bandha or the energetic lock in the neck here. This will protect the cervical spine.
  5. Only when your Upward Dog is solid and the shoulders are moving way down the back is it okay to turn the head up toward the sky. Even then, never let the base of the skull touch the back. Always keep a little bit of space between the head and back of the neck.
  6. Open your heart! Have you ever seen a dog do an actual Upward Dog? Puppies look like they are stretching new life into themselves. They press their chest open with their whole soul and you can practically feel the exuberance they emit in this stretch. Do that! Spread your collarbones and think about joy.

With each Upward-Facing Dog you take, go to a place that makes you feel joyful! Breathe in and open your heart to the world.