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Urdhva Mukha Svanasana – Upward Facing Dog Pose.

September 4, 2012

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana – Upward Facing Dog Pose.

  • Lie on the floor in prone position, i.e. face down, with arms alongside the body and the forehead on the floor
  • Bend the arms and move the hands to the sides of the chest, palms flat with fingers spread and pointing forwards
  • Bring the legs and the feet together with the top of the feet resting on the floor
  • On the inhalation, press the palms into the floor and lift the chest, shoulders and head off the floor and up towards the ceiling by straightening the arms as much as is possible or as flexibility allows
  • Open the chest with the intention of squeezing the shoulder blades in towards the spine and towards each other
  • Gently shrug the shoulders down and away from the ears
  • Consciously push your chest through the arms
  • Tuck the tailbone down then straighten the legs and lift the knees off the floor by pressing onto the top of the feet
  • The body is supported by the hands and the feet only
  • Look straight ahead or tilt the head upwards
  • Hold the asana for 3-5 breaths as a beginner and 5-10 breaths as a more advanced practitioner
  • Release on the exhalation by returning to the prone position and rest the forehead on the back of the hands

Counterpose / Pratikryasana:

  • Balasana – Ideal for Beginners
  • Adho Mukha Virasana – Big toes together, knees wide apart and stretch forward with upper body between the knees, resting the forehead on the mat or on the back of the hands or rest the forehead on a block
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana, (an inverted forward bend), for intermediate or advanced practitioners

Cautions & Modifications:

  • Do not tilt the head back if prone to headaches and migraines as compressing the neck backwards may aggravate or cause a headache
  • Do not practise during pregnancy especially the 2nd and 3rd trimester
  • Only seasoned practitioners may practise Urdhva Mukha Svanasana gently during the first trimester
  • If pressing on the top of the feet creates discomfort in the lower back or on the feet, then tuck the toes under and press the toes down to straighten the legs and lift the knees off the floor
  • Practise mindfully and after sufficient healing period if recovering from or suffered prior shoulder and wrists injuries
  • Always practise a forward bend before and after a back bend to re-align the spine


  • Stretches the spine backwards as it is a back bend pose
  • Rejuvenates and tones the spine
  • Helps to relieve back ache
  • It is especially beneficial for lower back and sciatic pain when there is a slight displacement of the lumbar vertebrae, practising this asana helps to return the discs to the original position
  • Expands the chest which in turn facilitates and improves breathing
  • Corrects round drooping shoulders with regular practice
  • Tones and activates the kidneys
  • Massages the abdominal organs, mainly the digestive organs and increases circulation to the abdominal region
  • Creates heat in the body
  • Relieves fatigue by re-energizing the body

Chakra Association:

Svadisthana and Manipura Chakras.

Wishing you health and healing.

Much Love,



Juanita is a certified Yoga teacher, Public Relations Practitioner and has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from UCT with majors in French & Italian. She started her Yoga practice in 2002. She has completed two Yoga Teacher Training Courses, the last one through Ananda Kutir Ashram, she has been teaching Yoga since 2007. Thanks to her Public Relations experience, Juanita discovered a love for writing and since 2007, after editing a book on Yoga, she has continued her love of the creative word by writing press releases, newsletters and articles highlighting various industries to the philosophy she loves the most, Yoga. Juanita is also the editor for Yoga Awakening Africa. or visit the website

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