Extended Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana) is like the perfect combination of Downward Dog and Child’s Pose, and can be used as a variation of either. Also referred to as Melting Heart Pose, this posture quite literally invites the heart to melt down toward the ground, stretching the spine in both directions.
Benefits of Extended Puppy Pose
Extended Puppy stretches the spine, shoulders, upper back, and arms, making this pose great (or challenging, depending on how you look at it!) for those who tend to hold tension in their shoulders and upper back.
The pose can be therapeutic for stress and anxiety, as well as chronic tension and insomnia. As a mild inversion, with the heart slightly higher than the head, Extended Puppy can help bring a sense of calm back into the body.
Extended Puppy Pose Step-By-Step
- Come to all fours (Tabletop position) with your shoulders stacked over your wrists, your hips stacked over your knees, and the tops of your feet relaxed down on the mat.
- Slowly begin to walk your hands out in front of you, lowering your chest down toward the ground. Keep your hips over your knees and your arms shoulder distance apart, and gently release your forehead down to the ground.
- Activate your arms by pressing into the palms of your hands and lifting your elbows and forearms away from the ground. Draw your shoulder blades onto your back and reach your hips up high toward the ceiling.
- Invite your neck to relax and breathe into your back, lengthening your spine in both directions.
- Remain in the pose anywhere from 5 to 10 breaths, then gently lift your forehead and walk your palms back toward your body to press up to Tabletop.
- Try placing a rolled up blanket or bolster lengthwise between your legs to engage the leg and hip muscles and protect your lower back in this pose. This can help to facilitate a longer hold. A bolster can also be placed underneath the chest to make the pose more restorative.
- If you experience any discomfort releasing your forehead to the floor, take a folded blanket or towel underneath your head for support. The chin can also be taken to the floor, but this variation should be practiced with caution due to the potential for straining the back of the neck.
- Given that this pose is a mild inversion, coming out quickly may cause dizziness due to a sudden change in blood flow. Remember to ease out of the pose slowly and mindfully, and take as much time as you need to sit or lie down before moving on.