If you have ever done or seen the Surya Namaskar series, you would know of the Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. This is a classic yoga pose that can open your chest muscles and improve your body posture. Many people also perform Urdhva Mukha Svanasana to relieve fatigue or body pain.
Also known as the Upward Facing Dog pose, this yoga is done by putting the bodyweight on all your limbs while sinking the chest down and putting strain on the lower back.
If you have been planning to add this yoga to your home workouts, you are at the right place. In this article, we have shared a step-by-step guide along with the Upward Facing Dog benefits. But let’s start with some basics first.
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana: Basic Facts
- Meaning: The words Urdhva Mukha Svanasana comes from the Sanskrit language wherein ‘Urdhva’ means Upward, ‘Mukha’ means Face, ‘Svana’ means Dog, and ‘Asana’ means Pose. Thereby, known as Upward Facing Dog pose.
- Other Names: Up Dog Pose, Forward Facing Dog, Upward Dog
- Muscles Targeted: It targets your abdomen, chest, shoulders, low back, triceps, and forearms.
- Level: Intermediate and Advanced
- Equipment Required: Yoga Mat
How To Perform Upward Facing Dog Yoga Pose?
The Upward Dog pose may look simple at first but it can be a challenging pose. You need to ensure that all your muscles are engaged the right way and you follow all the right steps. If you do not follow the best form, it can lead to muscle injury.
Below, we have jotted the steps of Upward Dog pose you should keep in mind:
- Lie down on your belly with your toes facing downwards. Your feet should be hip-width apart and your hands should rest beside your lower ribs.
- Now, activate your quadriceps by pressing down all toes into the ground.
- Press down with your hands and feet and take a deep breath.
- As you inhale, straighten your arms and lift your legs off the ground.
- Now, your arms should be at a 90-degree angle with the floor and your feet should be anchored.
- Draw your chest upwards by pressing your palms on the floor. Roll your shoulders back.
- Keep bending your back till your hands are completely straight.
- Close your eyes and also raise your chin upwards.
- Hold for 5 breaths, then release.
Knowing the steps is not enough, you also should learn about the common mistakes that people make while doing Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. By understanding them, you can try not to repeat them while performing yoga. Up Dog Pose mistakes to avoid are as follows:
The Hunch in The Shoulders
Many times, you end up hunching your shoulders and back to your ears. This happens when your neck collapses down between the shoulders and you also lose the shoulder’s active power to keep it close to your ears. This can impact your posture. So, keep it in mind and draw the shoulder blades down and in towards the spine to pull them away from the ears.
Not Engaging Your Thighs
One thing that distinguishes Urdhva Mukha Svanasana from Cobra Pose or Bhujangasana is that it actively engages your thigh muscles. In fact, it engages your entire body from your toes to the head. So, if you slouch your thighs and legs on the ground, it will minimize the benefits of this yoga. To avoid this, put your thighs together and actively lift them off the yoga mat.
Craning The Neck
While you do have to stretch your neck to look upwards, it should not be craned to do so. Try to keep it comfortably aligned with the spine, making a half-U curve. If you cannot look up, then shift your gaze forward to align your ears with the shoulders.
Whether you are performing Urdhva Mukha Asana at home or yoga studio, these mistakes should be avoided to maintain the best pose. You can also talk to your yoga trainer to learn more about such mistakes and how you can avoid them to master this yoga.
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana Benefits
Owing to its effective benefits, Urdhva Mukha Svanasana is often recommended in every yoga class. Here are some of the benefits you should also know:
Stretches The Body
One of the main benefits of Upward Dog Pose is that it helps in stretching your chest, back, legs, thighs, and neck. This improves blood circulation and also relieves back pain.
Strengthens The Arms
Since your body weight is balanced on your arms and wrists during Upward Dog Pose, this yoga also strengthens the muscles and prevents any future injuries due to wrists’ weakness.
Improves Body Posture
It cannot be denied that Urdhva Mukha Svanasana can effectively stretch your spinal cord. And in the process of doing so, you end up correcting your body posture.
Some other Upward Dog Pose benefits include the following:
- It can also relieve mild depression, anxiety, and stress.
- It can offer relief in health conditions such as sciatica pain.
- You can also increase your breathing capacity by consistent practice.
- It can also engage core muscles and prevent digestion-related issues.
Below are some precautions to keep in mind while doing Urdhva Mukha Asana:
- Women who are pregnant or have been through recent childbirth should avoid this pose.
- Those who have health conditions such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or have injuries related to the back, wrist, or shoulders, should avoid this yoga.
- Upward Dog Pose is not yoga for beginners and in case you are performing it for the first time, make sure you learn its steps from an expert.
- Always do a warmup before starting the Up Dog Pose.
- Do not eat heavy meals at least 40 minutes before the session.
Once you have mastered Urdhva Mukha Asana, it is easy to add it to your yoga routine. You can also just start Surya Namaskar by pairing it with other yoga poses. To learn more about this yoga pose, talk to a yoga expert.
You can also join online yoga classes to save both time and money. They offer classes based on your schedule where trainers come with years of experience. Some yoga studios also offer demo classes to help you make the right decision. All the best!
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