Yoga Pose Spotlight: Upward Facing Dog

If you’ve taken a vinyasa yoga class, then you’ve probably done Upward Facing Dog, or Ardha Mukha Svanasana. Although this pose usually only lasts an inhale breath, there is so much more that goes on to make sure the quick transition doesn’t end up causing injury. We’ll start with the feet and move up to the crown of the head. Read on to learn how to perfect this pose, and therefore perfect your vinyasa every time!

1. Press through the tops of your feet. 

You should feel the immediate engagement through the legs, allowing the lower body to be supported and stay lifted as you flow with control back into Downward Facing Dog on the exhale.

2. Feel quadriceps engage as they press up into hamstrings.

From here, feel the hamstrings press up toward the sky. When both of the big muscles in the legs are working, we don’t have to rely on tendons or ligaments to support us as compensation. This strength allows us to be ultra powerful and intentional with our flow.

3. Spiral inner thighs in and down.

By doing so we can activate the muscles that surround and support our lower back so we can prevent it from collapsing, which leads us to the next point of alignment.

4. Expand the lower back as low belly pulls in and up.

This engagement of the lower core helps to support the lower back. The most common injury during this transitional pose is in the low back. If you don’t take anything else away from this article, please take this!

5. Lift up through the center of the chest.

Stay strong in the back body, as the front body lengthens.

6. Peel the shoulders back and down. 

The shoulder blades should reach together as they slide down the back. This allows for an openness across the collarbones.

7. Reach through the crown of the head. 

This creates length in the neck, and therefore length in the spine.

By scanning the body’s alignment from feet to crown, we can ensure the whole body is working together to achieve a stronger foundation in our Upward Facing Dog. Here’s to a safe and happy flow 🙂


About the Author:

Lauren is a firm believer in taking an holistic approach to leading a healthy lifestyle by incorporating nutrition, exercise, and mindfulness to achieve well-being. She is a Holistic Nutritionist Consultant, Yoga Instructor, and a certified Wilderness First Responder. You can read more about Lauren and her passions on her blog or follow her on instagram @iamholistic.

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