How to get into Upward Facing Dog – Step by step
- Lie on your stomach, forehead on the floor, your hands next to the ribs, fingers lining up with the lower ribs and pointing forwards. Press the top of your feet into the floor and, just as in Cobra Pose, lift the thighs and knees, and keep the tailbone pointing towards the heels.
- On an inhalation press into your hands and feet, straighten your arms and lift your chest and legs off the floor.
- Draw the shoulder blades onto your back and lift your sternum, but draw your front lower ribs slightly back. Bring your tailbone towards your pubic bone, and draw your navel slightly in and up to keep your lower back long.
- You can look straight ahead, or advanced students may look up if they know they are open enough not to compress the back of the neck when looking up.
- Open your heart.
- You can hold this pose anywhere between 5-15 breaths.
- To come out, lower yourself down to the floor on an exhalation, or lift yourself into downward-facing dog.
Tips for beginners
- Press up actively from the palms, drawing the shoulders away from the ears to keep yourself from hanging in the pose.
- Draw the chest forward through the arms, moving the shoulder blades towards the tailbone.
- Keep your legs active, ensuring that the knees stay off the ground.
Benefits of the upward facing dog
- Opens the heart, chest and lungs
- Stretches your upper back and the whole front of your body
- Strengthens your wrists, arms, shoulders, spine
- Counteracts bad posture
Pay attention to:
- Keep length in your neck rather than overarching it by thrusting your chin up to the ceiling. Instead, you could try taking the gaze upwards.
Variations of the upward facing dog
- Experiment with a variation of the pose by keeping your toes tucked.
- You can also try a moving variation of the pose – once you’re in upward-facing dog, gently move your upper body from side to side.
Text by: Esther Ekhart, Ekhart Yoga