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Upward-Facing Dog Pose (urdhva mukha svanasana)

Back bend that stretches your shoulders, arms, wrists, abdomen and back.

Upward-Facing Dog Pose (or urdhva mukha svanasana) is a back bend that opens your chest and helps to strengthen your upper body. This pose also provides an intense stretch for your shoulders, arms, wrists, abdomen and lower back.
Upward-Facing Dog Pose is often performed as part of Sun Salutation.
As you straighten your arms to lift your upper body away from the floor in this pose, make sure your spine is lengthened to avoid compressing your lower back.
You should also allow your neck to follow the curve of your spine and make sure your shoulders are relaxed down. It is more important to relax and widen your shoulders than it is to straighten your arms completely. Keeping your chest lifted and expanded as you hold Upward-Facing Dog Pose will also help you achieve the full benefits of the pose.
While performing this pose, try to visualize your chest opening and your body lengthening from the crown of your head to the tips of your toes.
Begin in Child's Pose.
Stretch your arms straight out in front of you, with your hands shoulder width apart.
Spread your fingers out, with your middle fingers pointing straight ahead.
Maintaining the position of your hands and knees, inhale as you press your palms into the floor and stretch your body forward along the floor.
Straighten your arms to lift your upper body and head away from the floor, keeping your neck relaxed.
(Make sure your hands are directly under your shoulders and your elbows are not locked.)
Press the front of your pelvis and your hips toward the floor.
Press down through your palms and then curl your toes under to place the balls of your feet on the floor.
Press down through the balls of your feet to lift your knees and lower legs off the floor.
Point the crown of your head toward the ceiling to lengthen your spine.
(Visualize your entire spine lengthening. Your lower back should not feel compressed.)
Lift and expand your chest as you relax your shoulders down away from your ears.
Hold the pose for 5 to 30 seconds.
(To come out of the pose, exhale as you lower your legs to the floor and then return to Child's Pose.)
When should I avoid performing this pose?
You should avoid performing Upward-Facing Dog Pose if you have wrist problems, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, or lower back problems.
How can I deepen Upward-Facing Dog Pose?
You can tilt your head back slightly to look up at the ceiling as you hold the pose. Make sure you do not bend your neck too far backwards. Your neck should feel long and uncompressed. If you have a stiff or sore neck, do not perform this modification.
How can I make this pose easier?
To make Upward-Facing Dog Pose easier, perform the pose as described in the steps above, except leave the top of your feet and your lower legs on the floor. This modification is useful if you find the pose too intense, if your upper body is weak or injured or if you have problems with your feet or toes. You can practice this modification to help gain the upper body strength necessary to perform the pose with your toes tucked under.
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