The Anatomy of Arm Support Poses: Upward-Facing Dog Pose

Opposite to the feet, the anatomical structure of hands is not meant for supporting the weight. Hence, the challenging nature of arm support poses. Beginner students are suggested to master standing positions prior to practicing arm support poses. Leggings, yoga pants and workout clothes that allow your body to move freely are required in order to not hinder the flow of your exercises.

Urdvha Mukha Svanasana (oord-vah moo-kah shvon-ahs-anna) is a widely known yoga pose often classified as a beginner to intermediate position. When holding this pose, one’s arms and legs press down, extending the spine and neck in addition to lengthening both limbs, the rib cage, and chest.

A correct upward dog position must almost look as if your head is being pulled towards the sky, while the palms of your hands and the upper part of your feet are the only parts of your body making contact with the ground. When it comes to the upper part of the body, one’s hands have to press against the ground lifting one’s weight. One’s chest has to remain open with the shoulders kept away from the ears and the head coming back. The shoulder blades should be drawn slightly downwards and towards one another. For the rest of the body, one’s knees must be kept off the surface with the top of the feet pressing continuously against the ground.

Key tips to bear in mind are the following:

  • Keep your shoulders from moving in the direction of your ears.
  • Lift your legs off the surface.
  • Uninterruptedly press the upper part of your feet against the ground.
  • Engage your pelvis and abdominal areas.
  • Direct your gaze at the ceiling or sky.

Remember these few cues when going into an upward dog position, as they consist of the basis of this pose and will aid with preventing any possible injuries.

In order to achieve the flexibility needed to carry out this pose, you can first practice the cobra pose or Bhujangasana. This pose is similar to the upward dog position but milder in its stretch. With Cobra, one’s legs touch the surface as the upper part of the feet press lightly against the ground. The shoulders are bent and your gaze doesn’t necessarily have to be directed towards the ceiling or sky. All in all, it is a simpler pose.

Once you have prepared your body and build up more flexibility, you can go ahead into a safe upward-facing dog pose after doing preceding positions such as bridge pose or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, and the previously mentioned cobra. Follow-up poses include backbends, mountain pose or Tadasana, and hero pose or virasana.

The majority of benefits surrounding this yoga pose are closely linked to the opening of the fourth, Anahata, chakra. This energy point is located at the center of all seven chakras and is related to the divine aspects of compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance. Amongst the physical benefits, one can find that this position aids in strengthening the nervous system and aligning the spine.

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