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

Upward Facing Dog Pose. This is a great pose for strengthening and stretching your chest, 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 correctly, 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!


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 slightly upward, keeping your neck in line with your spine.
  • Press into your hands, actively 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 fully, you can practice with your palms on the mat and your elbows slightly 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 modify the pose by practicing Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) instead.
  • Listen to your body and respect your limitations. Avoid any pain or discomfort, and modify the pose as needed.
  • Seek guidance from a qualified yoga instructor if you have any specific concerns or limitations.

Ease into Makarasana (Crocodile Pose). Gracefully 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!

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 and 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.

Benefits Of Upward Dog

Let’s move on to the benefits. This pose can be incredibly beneficial for overall mental and physical health. It helps to stretch your spine, improving both posture and mobility. At the same time, it opens up your chest area, allowing you to take deeper breaths which can help with stress relief.

In addition, this pose strengthens your arms and legs. As well as stimulating organs in your abdomen such as kidneys and intestines. All these factors together create a feeling of emotional balance and harmony throughout the body.

Now let’s look at the anatomical focus of this pose. Upward Dog encourages an arching back position that will lengthen out any tightness or tension in the middle spinal column.

By maintaining an open chest area while pressing down into hands and feet equally, you’ll notice more strength building within your core muscles too! As always practice mindful breathing during this pose. Inhale deeply through nose, expanding ribcage wide then exhaling slowly through mouth with control.

Anatomical Focus Of The Pose

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, is a great way to promote spinal extension and shoulder movement. As you move into this asana, your hips will flex while your abdominals contract. Your chest should open fully while keeping the shoulders relaxed down away from the ears.

It’s important to keep the spine long throughout the posture by engaging both sides of your waist equally. Be mindful not to squeeze the buttocks together in order to maintain an even stretch along the whole length of your back body. To enhance the benefits of this pose further, it can be helpful to practice preparatory poses beforehand.

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. Preparing your body for this exercise requires focus on core strength, back flexibility, and shoulder alignment. To help you strengthen these areas of your body before attempting the full pose, 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 like Upward Facing Dog.
  • Downward Dog: Enhances hamstring flexibility which will make entering it easier.

By combining all of these preparatory poses together into one flow sequence you’ll be able to get your body ready for successful pose performance! Next we’ll explore at which muscles are engaged in this pose…

Muscles Engaged In The Pose

When performing the pose, it is crucial to understand which muscles you are engaging. Think of your body as a machine. Each part working together to create a powerful and beautiful expression of yoga. The latissimus dorsi, rectus abdominis, triceps brachii, and gluteus maximus all play an important role in this yoga exercise.

The lats form a strong foundation. While the abdomen supports spinal alignment and helps lift and lengthen the torso. Meanwhile, your triceps provide stability for your arms. So that they do not shake or buckle during the practice.

Finally, your glutes help to extend the spine by activating those hard-to-reach muscles at the base of your back. All these elements come together in perfect harmony when practicing Urdhva Mukha Svanasana!

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 from occurring during practice, make sure that you’re engaging your core muscles by drawing in your navel towards your spine.

Additionally, 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

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 benefit from 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. Now let’s move on to learning about contraindications and cautions associated with this pose.

Contraindications And Cautions

It’s important to be aware of any contraindications and cautions while doing the updog in yoga. 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 carefully to your body. If something doesn’t feel right then back off and come out of the pose.

In order to safely 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

In order 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 in order 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 firmly into the ground while inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly.

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 significantly intensify our yoga practice and achieve greater strength building benefits. This will help us get closer to experiencing all the wonderful health benefits associated with it!

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. In order to get your students and clients the most out of their practice. 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 simultaneously strengthening the arms, shoulders, core muscles and legs. It can also help reduce back pain by stretching out the lower lumbar region. When done correctly 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. Additionally, Endorphins are released through this asana helping boost energy levels and increase overall well-being.

Through its various effects on multiple 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

Now that we’ve discussed the science behind the pose, let’s move on to exploring pranayama techniques for this pose. To get into the pose, begin in a tabletop position with your hips directly over your knees and shoulders above elbows.

From here, press down through the palms of your hands as you inhale deeply and lift up into an arch shape. Allow yourself to be fully present during each breath while in this pose.

As you’re moving through the flow, make sure to keep your gaze toward the sky and relax your neck muscles. Let gravity work its magic by allowing your body to sink further into the ground with every exhale.

You can also explore Ujjayi breathing while in Upward-dog. This is where you slightly 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.

To wrap things up, allow yourself plenty of time when practicing yoga poses such as Upward-Dog. It’s important to take pauses throughout. Use props if needed so that you don’t push yourself too hard or strain certain parts of your body.

With consistent practice – using proper alignment, breathwork (pranayama), and meditative awareness – this yoga pose can bring about profound physical benefits as well as mental clarity!

Yoga Upward Facing Dog / Canva Frequently Asked Questions

Is Upward-Facing Dog Suitable For People With Back Pain?

When it comes to yoga, many people are hesitant to practice poses when they suffer from chronic back pain. However, the pose can be beneficial and suitable for those with back pain:

  • It helps stretch your chest, shoulders and abdomen while strengthening the spine.
  • The pose also has benefits such as improving posture and relieving stress.

Not only does this pose provide relief from aches and pains in the lower back area but it also provides an opportunity to strengthen muscles around the spine which can improve posture significantly over time. Additionally, practicing this pose on a regular basis can help reduce stress levels in the body by calming both mind and soul.

To ensure best results, always warm up before starting any exercise routine – even one involving yoga -and make sure you follow all steps carefully so as not to strain yourself too much.

With consistency, dedication and patience you’ll soon start feeling amazing benefits of your new practice! Always, first talk to your doctor when having back pain.

Are There Any Risks Associated With Upward Facing Dog Posture?

When practicing yoga, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks associated with particular poses. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana is a common pose in many styles of yoga. But can also bring certain risks depending on your physical condition and level of experience.

In order to safely practice this pose without running into any issues related to back pain or other injuries. It is essential to understand the possible risks involved when performing this pose. This includes understanding how this pose could cause harm if done incorrectly or by those who are not properly prepared for it.

Knowing these potential dangers ahead of time will help you make educated decisions about whether or not this pose is right for you and how to modify it so that you get the most out of your practice while avoiding injury.

What Are The Breathing Techniques To Use When Doing Upward-Facing Dog?

When performing, it’s essential to pay attention to your breath. Yogis often use Ujjayi Pranayama (Victorious Breath).

Which involves inhaling and exhaling deeply through both nostrils. While slightly constricting the throat muscles in order to create an ocean-like sound. This technique promotes relaxation. It also can help you stay focused on the movements of your body during this powerful pose.

Are There Any Alternative Poses For Those Who Cannot Do Upward-Facing Dog?

Are there any alternative poses for those who cannot do updog? This is a great question to ask! It’s important that we all feel comfortable and safe in our practice.

For some, the Upward Facing Dog can be difficult or even uncomfortable on their bodies. Fortunately, there are several alternatives which offer similar benefits as Upward Dog Pose.

Modified cobra pose, bridge pose, bow pose, and supported plank pose are all excellent alternatives. Modified cobra is a back-bending position that strengthens and stretches the spine much like Upward Facing Dog does.

Bridge pose opens up the chest while toning your legs and glutes. It also helps with digestion and boosts energy levels.

Bow pose brings flexibility to your shoulders while stretching out your entire body at once. Finally, supported plank pose works your core muscles. Without putting too much strain on your wrists or lower back if you’re unable to get into full Downward Facing Dog yet.

There are many options available when seeking an alternative. Finding one that suits your needs will help make sure you stay safe and enjoyably engaged in your yoga practice.

How Long Should I Hold The Pose For?

When it comes to holding Upward Facing Dog, it all depends on your individual needs and level of experience. Here are some general guidelines you can use:

  • Beginners: If you’re a beginner at yoga or just learning how to do the stance, start by holding the pose for 10-15 seconds. As you become more comfortable with the movement, gradually increase the length of time that you stay in the pose until you reach 30-60 seconds per side.
  • Experienced Yogis: For experienced yogis who have been doing this pose regularly, try to hold the asana anywhere from 1 minute up to 5 minutes if possible. Remember that everyone has different abilities and limitations so please honor those when deciding how long to hold each pose for.

No matter what level of experience you have with yoga. Always remember to be mindful of your body. Go at your own pace as you work towards achieving longer holds in poses like Upward Facing Dog.

Listen carefully to what your body tells you. Don’t push yourself too hard! With regular practice and patience, even beginners can learn how to safely execute this classic yoga pose correctly and comfortably over time.

Upward Facing Dog Yoga / Canva
Upward Facing Dog Yoga


Upward Facing Dog Pose, also known as Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. This is a back-bending yoga posture that opens the chest and stretches the front of the body. The pose is often practiced as part of a vinyasa yoga sequence and offers numerous benefits.

To practice Upward Facing Dog, start by lying face down on your mat. Place your hands alongside your ribcage, fingers pointing forward, and press the tops of your feet firmly into the mat.

On an inhale, straighten your arms and lift your chest, rolling your shoulders back and down. Keep your legs engaged and actively draw your tailbone towards your heels.

In Upward Facing Dog, actively press the hands into the floor and roll the shoulders away from your ears. Keeping the shoulder blades drawn down your back.

Engage your abdominal muscles and lift your sternum up and forward. Feel the stretch in the front of your body, particularly the chest and hip flexors.

The pose offers numerous 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. However, it is important to avoid this pose if you have a low back or wrist injury. Or during pregnancy!

Modifications and variations of Upward Facing Dog are available to accommodate different needs and abilities. 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 if needed to ensure a safe and beneficial practice.