Learning the Language of Yoga: Upward Facing Dog | Part 4 of 5 #MovementMonday

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Commonly known as ‘updog’, or urdhva mukha svanasana in Sanskirt, this pose is a deeper backbend than cobra. The key differences between the two poses is that your legs, knees and pelvis are off the floor in upward dog. This helps prevent the potential for back injuries.

  • Getting into it: there are a couple of ways to enter upward dog. Option 1: as in cobra, lie on your stomach and place your hands next to your low ribs. Press up to cobra on an inhalation, then keep straightening your arms until your hips and knees rise up as well. Option 2: from downward dog, glide forward to a plank or yoga pushup. Flip over your toes and press into the tops of your feet as your chest comes through your straightened arms. In both options, your legs are about hip-width apart and the tops of your feet are pressing into the mat. Look up to the sky if it’s OK on your neck, and draw your shoulders down.
  • Tips and tricks: (similar to cobra pose)
    • Do a cobra (or two) to warm up your spine before entering upward dog.
    • Hug your arms and elbows alongside your torso rather than letting them splay out.
    • Imagine you’re pulling your chest through your arms to stretch your hipflexers as well.
    • Keep your glute (buttocks) muscles soft to avoid any tension in your lower back.
  • Benefits:
    • Improves your posture by helping draw your shoulders down and back.
    • Stretches your chest, lungs shoulders and abdomen.
    • Strengthens your spine, arms and wrists.
    • Firms your buttocks (need I say more?!)

Updog is one of the key poses in the sun salutation series. For a deeper stretch in the front of my body (including the hips), I like to hold this pose and slowly look over each shoulder to deepen the sensation. From there, you can press back up to downward dog for a wonderful way to stretch out the back of your body.

 

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Natalie Anthony, BA, RYT-200 Yoga Instructor

After a serious accident, Natalie was revived by discovering the physical and emotional benefits of yoga. Her yoga journey began as a client at Balance, and evolved into a passion for teaching the practice to others. Natalie is registered with the International Yoga Alliance as an instructor. Her creative sequencing inspires students to develop strength, flexibility and joy – both on and off the mat. Natalie instructs group classes and facilitates private one-on-one Yoga sessions at Balance, a Toronto boutique fitness and wellness centre. balancefit.com