The Upward Facing Dog is one of the first backbends you learn as a beginner yogi, but if not done correctly, it can be quite painful for the shoulders or the lower back. And even if you are not new to this pose, sometimes it is helpful to refresh your knowledge of all the steps to prevent any injuries from occurring. The Up Dog is an essential part of Sun Salutations and is often practiced during Ashtanga or Vinyasa yoga. When done properly, this pose stretches your spine in a very satisfying way and releases all the pressure. Here are some tips and tricks to a proper Upward Facing Dog while you’re at it!
How to get into Upward Facing Dog – Step by step
- Start by lying on your stomach with your forehead on the floor. Place your hands next to your ribs, fingers lining up with the lower ribs and pointing forward. Press the tops of your feet into the floor, lift your thighs and knees just like in the Cobra Pose, and keep your tailbone pointing towards your heels.
- On the inhale, press into your hands and feet, straighten your arms and lift your chest and legs off the floor.
- Draw your shoulder blades onto your back, lift your sternum, and slightly draw back your front lower ribs. Bring your tailbone towards your pubic bone and draw your navel slightly in and up to maintain a long lower back.
- You can look straight ahead, or if you’re more advanced, you can look up as long as it doesn’t compress the back of your neck.
- Open your heart and hold the pose for 5-15 breaths.
- To release, exhale and lower yourself back down to the floor or lift yourself into Downward Facing Dog.
Tips for beginners
- Press up actively from the palms, pulling your shoulders away from your ears to avoid sinking into the shoulders.
- Draw the chest forward through the arms, moving the shoulder blades towards your tailbone.
- Keep your legs active, ensuring that the knees stay off the ground.
- When the Upward Facing Dog feels too complicated, or you already have shoulder or lower back issues, there are alternative poses to try, like the Cobra Pose or the Sphinx pose.
Benefits of the Upward Facing Dog
- Opens the heart, chest and lungs.
- Stretches your upper back and the entire front of your body.
- Strengthens your wrists, arms, shoulders, spine.
- Counteracts bad posture.
Pay attention to:
- Avoid arching your neck too much by pointing your chin up. Instead, try directing your gaze upward.
Variations of the Upward Facing Dog
- Experiment with a variation of the pose by keeping your toes tucked.
- You can also try a dynamic variation of the pose – once you’re in Up Dog, gently move your upper body from side to side.
Remember to have a safe practice
Now that you know all the steps to an Upward Facing Dog, you are totally ready for your next yoga practice. Remember: no matter how long you have practiced yoga, it is okay if you still struggle with some poses along the way. Everyone is built differently, so some Asanas might be easier for others. Still, practice makes perfect! So, don’t forget to implement these tips the next time you find yourself in a Sun Salutation.
The perfect yoga outfit
Looking for the perfect outfit for your next Vinyasa or Ashtanga practice? An important thing to remember when choosing your yoga outfit for these types of practices is that you want it to be lightweight and breathable, allowing freedom of movement. Opt for stretchy yoga leggings and a loose yoga tank top for ultimate comfort. Lastly, do not forget to bring layers! These types of practices typically finish with an end relaxation, which makes your body cool down, so it is smart to bring an extra yoga shirt with long sleeves. All in all, it is important that you choose yoga clothing that makes you feel comfortable. Have your own practice, have a safe practice.