Pose of the Week: Upward Facing Dog
Hi yogis & yoginis!
It's Monday, which means I have a new pose for us to dive into for the week. This week's asana is Urdvha Mukha Svanasana, which translates to Upward Facing Dog.
Upward dog comes up so much in our vinyasa classes. It's the foundation for all deeper, more advanced backbends to come, so it's important that we develop a solid technique for practicing this pose safely and effectively.
For the sake of simplicity, we'll start in a plank pose, with your hands shoulder-width apart and your feet hip-width distance. Gently shift your weight forward so the tops of your feet come to touch the ground. As you roll over the toes, let the hips sink down toward your mat, hovering an inch or so above the ground.
+ Only the hands and feet should touch the ground.
+ Activate your legs by pressing strongly into the feet and lifting the kneecaps.
+ Press the ground away from you with your hands so you feel energy and awareness rising in your arms.
It's very easy to dump into the lower back in this pose. What really helps me is to think about stabilizing the pelvis, and then pulling the ribs up and out of the hips.
As the ribs move forward, the chest reaches up toward the sky, while you draw the shoulders down. Feel your chest expanding and your neck extending out of your shoulders.
If you are very open, allow the head to drop all the way back as well, as pictured below. If that doesn't feel good or it causes your alignment to suffer, just look up slightly, lengthening the cervical spine as I am doing in the first photo above. Wherever you are, gaze past your nose.
In backbends, we should be thinking about creating space and openness in the front of the body rather than simply bending backwards. Many times, if someone is tight in their backbends, it's actually because their front body (chest, abdominals, hip flexors, etc...) needs to open up more.
Urdvha Mukha Svanasana is a fantastic pose to develop strength in the back body and space in the front body. By practicing this pose everyday, along with warm up postures and counter poses, we can build health and balance in our mind-body-spirit connection.
So go spend some time practicing this pose this week, remember these simple cues during your yoga classes, and have fun! Questions, comments, and concerns are ALWAYS welcome. I am here to help <3
For love, with love.