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Upward facing dog pose (Urdhva mukha svanasana) steps, benefits and precautions

The upward facing dog pose or Urdhva mukha svanasana is a backbend asana in modern yogic practice. This yoga pose is also performed as a part of the Sun salutation or the Surya Namaskar.

Upward facing dog pose steps, benefits and precautions

Urdhva mukha svanasana meaning

The name of this yoga pose is a combination of four sanskrit words.

  • ‘Urdhva’ meaning upward
  • ‘Mukha’ meaning face
  • ‘Svana’ meaning dog
  • ‘Asana’ meaning pose

This pose is named due to its similarity with the pose of a dog stretching upwards. It is very similar to Bhujangasana or the Cobra pose.

Upward facing dog pose (Urdhva mukha svanasana) steps, benefits and precautions

How to do the Upward facing dog pose?

Here is a step by step guide on how to the upward facing dog pose or urdhva mukha svanasana.

Step one

Lie on a yoga mat or the floor with your stomach on the floor. Place your hands on the sides of your body and ensure that your legs are facing in the downward direction.

Step two

Fold your arms and bring up your elbows. Place the palms of your hands just behind your shoulders close to your body.

Step three

Take a deep breath and apply force to the ground with your hands so that you can lift your body slowly and softly from the floor/yoga mat. Place your feet on the ground so that your legs also get engaged.

In this pose, the full weight of your body will be supported on your hands and feet.

If you are facing a problem in lifting and holding your whole body off the floor, you can use some yoga equipment like yoga blocks or yoga blankets for support.

Step four

Slightly lift your head in the backward direction and keep your eyes in the straight direction. Do not allow your shoulders to get hunched and move them away from your ears.

At no point of time during the pose disengage your thighs as it helps to maintain a proper alignment of the body for the pose.

Step five

Hold the pose for 5-8 breaths. Ensure that your wrists and your shoulders are in the same line.

Step six

To release the pose, exhale and bend your knees and bring your body down to the floor.

Benefits of Upward facing dog pose

  1. Urdhva mukha svanasana strengthens your hands and wrist as they are used to support the weight of your body during the pose.
  2. It also stimulates your abdominal organs and helps in overall improvement in the performance of the digestive system.
  3. The upward facing dog pose is also very useful for practitioners suffering from nagging upper and lower back pain. They will be able to get sustained relief from such problems through regular practice of this yoga pose.
  4. The asana helps to provide a good stretch to your back and strengthens it as well.
  5. The yoga pose helps to stretch your chest, lungs and shoulders.
  6. For people suffering from issues of fatigue or sciatica, this asana is very helpful.

Precautions and contraindications

  1. Since Upward facing dog pose puts a lot of pressure on your wrists, anyone with issues of carpal tunnel syndrome should not practice this asana.
  2. If you have any back or feet injury, this asana is not advisable since it can aggravate the injury.
  3. Back injuries
  4. Not advisable for pregnant women.
  5. People suffering from migraine or headaches should not perform this asana.

Related yoga poses to upward facing dog pose

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