How To Do Upward Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

Upward Facing Dog Pose, is a great pose for strengthening and stretching your chest. Also arms, shoulders, abdominal muscles, and even your legs.

If you’ve been looking for ways to increase flexibility and strength in these areas. Then this is an excellent place to start.

To perform this pose correct. It’s important that you pay close attention to your body’s alignment.

As well as your breathing throughout the movement. I’ll walk you through each step. So you can get the most out of this powerful posture.

Once completed properly, the pose will leave you feeling invigorated and energized.

Together with improved mobility in all those targeted areas mentioned earlier. Get ready to feel the benefits of this amazing pose!

Video – 9 Min Tutorial for Upward Dog

Step-by-step Instructions For Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Sanskrit)

Here are the steps to perform the yoga pose:

  • Start by lying face down on your mat with your legs extended behind you and the tops of your feet pressing into the mat.
  • Place your hands on the mat alongside your ribcage. Fingers spread wide and pointing forward. Elbows should be close to your body.
  • Press the tops of your feet and thighs into the mat, engaging your leg muscles.
  • Inhale as you begin to straighten your arms, lifting your chest and upper body off the mat. Keep your hips and legs grounded.
  • Roll your shoulders back and down. Opening your chest and drawing your shoulder blades together.
  • Look straight ahead or upward, keeping your neck in line with your spine.
  • Press into your hands, engaging your arms and upper back muscles.
  • Keep your core engaged. Drawing your navel towards your spine, to support your lower back and protect it.
  • Relax your buttocks and avoid squeezing your glutes.
  • Maintain a steady breath as you hold the pose. Allowing your chest to open and expand with each inhalation.
  • Hold the asana for several breaths. Aiming to lengthen the front of your body and create a gentle backbend.
  • To release the pose, exhale and lower your chest and upper body back down to the mat with control.


  • Start with a gentle lift of your chest and avoid excessive strain or compression in your lower back.
  • Engage your core muscles to support your lower back and maintain stability.
  • Be mindful of not scrunching your shoulders up towards your ears. Keep them relaxed and away from your ears.
  • If you find it difficult to straighten your arms. You can practice with your palms on the mat and your elbows bent.
  • The dog pose stretches the chest, shoulders, and abdomen. While strengthening the arms and back muscles.
  • Take care not to overextend your neck or force the backbend. The focus should be on lengthening the front of the body rather than bending excessively.
  • If you have any wrist or lower back issues. You can change the pose by practicing Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) instead.
  • Listen to your body and respect your limitations. Avoid any pain or discomfort, and change the pose as needed.
  • Seek guidance from a qualified yoga instructor. If you have any specific concerns or limitations.

Ease into Makarasana (Crocodile Pose). Lower your legs onto the mat and let your elbows lead you as you loop downwards. Allowing each segment from abdomen to neck then face to sink.

As soon as all is resting, inhale a deep breath of relief with an exhalatory sigh that melts tension away. Don’t forget letting go!

Updog Benefits / Canva

9 Updog Benefits

Here are some benefits of Urdhva Mukha Svanasana:

  • Spinal Flexibility. It helps to increase the flexibility and mobility of the spine. Promoting a healthy range of motion.
  • Strengthened Back Muscles. This pose strengthens the muscles of the back, including the erector spinae. Which helps to improve posture and support the spine.
  • Openness in the Chest and Shoulders. As you lift your chest and roll your shoulders back in updog. It helps to open and stretch the muscles of the chest and shoulders. Counteracting the effects of hunching and sitting for long periods.
  • Improved Posture. Regular practice can help correct rounded shoulders. It can also promote proper alignment of the spine. Leading to improved posture.
  • Strengthened Arms and Wrists: Supporting the weight of your upper body in this pose helps to strengthen the arms. Including the biceps, triceps, and forearms. It also helps to increase the strength and stability of the wrists.
  • Increased Lung Capacity: As you lift your chest and open your heart, it allows for deeper and fuller breaths. Enhancing lung capacity and oxygenation of the body.
  • Energizing and Invigorating. This pose is known to energize the body and mind. Promoting feelings of invigoration and rejuvenation.
  • Improves Core Strength.
    Engaging the abdominal muscles helps to strengthen the core. Including the deep muscles of the abdomen and the muscles around the spine.
  • Stimulates the Nervous System. The backbend stimulates the nervous system, promoting vitality and boosting energy levels.

Remember that individual experiences may vary. It’s important to listen to your body and practice within your own limits.

If you have any specific concerns or limitations. It’s always a good idea to consult with a qualified yoga instructor.

Upwardfacing Dog Pose / Canva

Definition Of Upward-Facing Dog Pose

Updog, or Urdhva Mukha Svanasana in Sanskrit, is an intermediate-level yoga asana. It involves stretching your back while lifting your chest and hips off the ground.

You will begin on all fours, then press hands and feet into the floor as you lift your torso away from it. Hence its name “upward facing dog”.

This pose increases flexibility in both your legs and spine. While also strengthening them at the same time. In essence, this pose provides deep benefits for body and mind.

Preparatory Poses

The notion that the pose is a challenging yoga pose may be true. But it can be mastered with practice and proper preparation.

To prepare your body for this exercise. You need to focus on core strength, back flexibility, and shoulder alignment.

Here are five preparatory poses to try:

  • Cat-Cow. This simple series helps awaken the spine. It also opens up the shoulders by stretching both front and back torso muscles.
  • Bridge Pose. Strengthens and stretches the chest muscles. As well as hip flexors while increasing circulation in the abdominal region.
  • Cobra Pose. Increases spinal flexibility while strengthening your arms and improving overall posture.
  • Plank Pose. Builds strong core muscles needed for maintaining balance during more difficult poses.
  • Downward Dog. Enhances hamstring flexibility which will make entering it easier.

By combining all these preparatory poses together into one flow sequence. You’ll be able to get your body ready for successful pose performance!

Upwardfacing Dog Pose Yoga / Canva

Common Misalignments

When practicing, it’s important to keep an eye out for misalignments. Incorrect form and alignment can lead to injury. So it’s best to be aware of any mistakes you may be making.

Common mistakes in this pose include arching your lower back too much. Hunching your shoulders up towards your ears, or placing too much weight on your wrists.

To prevent these issues during practice, engage your core muscles. Draw in your navel toward your spine.

Focus on lengthening through the spine while keeping a slight bend at the knees if needed.

This will help maintain correct posture and reduce the risk of any injuries. Finally, use blocks or straps to get into proper alignment if necessary.

Modifications And Variations / Canva

Modifications And Variations

Up-Dog is a fantastic asana for lengthening and strengthening your spine. But some of us may not have the flexibility or strength to do it in its full expression.

That’s why we offer modifications and props that can be used to make the pose easier. So everyone from beginners to more experienced yogis can enjoy this wonderful asana!

To help you get into an adapted version of upward-facing dog. Use a bolster underneath your belly and chest if needed.

This will take away some of the strain on your arms and back muscles, allowing you to hold the pose longer with ease.

You could also place blocks underneath your hands for extra support. Experiment with these variations until you find the one that works best for you!

With practice and patience. You’ll soon be able to extend yourself even further in this beautiful yoga pose.

Contraindications And Cautions

It’s important to be aware of any contraindications and cautions. Before attempting this asana, take a moment to assess your own physical capabilities:

If you have prior or recent injuries, it’s best to avoid this posture until they are healed. Talk to your healthcare provider first, if yoga is suitable for you!

It is also not advised for pregnant women due to the pressure on the abdomen from being inverted. As always, listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right then back off and come out of the pose.

To practice, take note of these considerations before beginning. You may find that modifying some elements or avoiding altogether. Can help keep you safe during your yoga journey!

How To Increase Intensity / Canva

How To Increase Intensity

To increase the intensity of the asana, there are several advanced modifications. These can be broken down into two main categories. Physical movements and breathing techniques.

Physical MovementsBreathing Techniques
Lift hips higherUddiyana Bandha
Engage glutesInhale deeply
Press palms firmlyExhale slowly

It is important to focus on engaging your muscles. As you move through these modifications to experience the full benefit of this pose.

For example, when lifting your hips, ensure that you engage your glutes for extra support. Additionally, press your palms into the ground while inhaling and exhaling slow.

Finally, try incorporating uddiyana bandha (belly lock). With each breath cycle for a more intense pose. To practice this technique, draw in your core and lift up from inside out. As if you were zipping up tight jeans around your waistline.

By using these physical movements and breathing techniques. We can intensify our yoga practice and achieve greater strength building benefits.

The Science Behind Upward Facing Dog Pose

“As the saying goes, knowledge is power”. As a yoga practitioner. It’s important to understand the scientific benefits of poses like Up-Dog. The anatomy behind this pose works wonders for both physical and neurological health.

On an anatomical level. Upward Facing Dog releases tension along the spine. While strengthening the arms, shoulders, core muscles and legs.

It can also help reduce back pain by stretching out the lower lumbar region. When done with proper alignment, this asana strengthens the entire body from head to toe!

On a neurological level. Practising this pose stimulates neural pathways throughout all areas of our brain. This increases cognitive functioning and helps us focus better when needed.

Endorphins are released through this asana. This helps boost energy levels and increase well-being.

Through its various effects on many layers of our being, from muscle tissue to hormones. Upward Facing Dog has proven itself time and again as one of yoga’s most potent postures.”

Pranayama Techniques For The Pose / Canva

Pranayama Techniques For The Pose

You can explore Ujjayi breathing while in Upward-dog. This is where you constrict or narrow at the back of your throat. Creating a soft hissing sound as you breathe out and in.

This helps to create deeper relaxation within the body and mind. Which will help support any difficult poses like Upward facing dog.


Upward Facing Dog Pose is a back-bending yoga posture. It opens the chest and stretches the front of the body. The pose is often practiced as part of a vinyasa yoga sequence and offers many benefits.

The pose offers many benefits, including improving posture, strengthening the back and arms. Stretching the chest and abdomen, and increasing lung capacity.

It can be a part of a dynamic yoga flow or practiced on its own. But, it is important to avoid this pose if you have a low back or wrist injury. Or during pregnancy!

You can modify Upward Facing Dog to suit different needs and abilities. There are many variations available.

These include lifting the thighs off the floor for a deeper backbend. Or modifying the pose by keeping the legs resting on the mat.

Remember to practice Upward Facing Dog with proper alignment and listen to your body. Avoid straining or forcing the pose and respect your individual limitations.

Seek guidance from a qualified yoga instructor. This will ensure a safe and beneficial practice.

Upward Facing Dog Yoga Pose / Canva
Upward Facing Dog Yoga Pose