(OORD-vah MOO-kah shvon-AHS-anna) urdhva mukha = face upward (urdhva = upward mukha = face) svana = dog
Step by Step
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
Contraindications and Cautions
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Modifications and Props
Often it's difficult to keep the legs strongly suspended above the floor. Before you move into the pose, position a thick blanket roll below your top thighs. When you are in the pose, lightly rest your thighs on this roll as you press the tailbone closer to the roll.
Deepen the Pose
To increase the strength and lightness of this pose, push from the backs of your knees along the calves and out through the heels. The tops of your feet will press more firmly against the floor; as they do, lift the top sternum up and forward.
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana will help you learn to lift the chest in poses like Tadasana and Virasana.
There's a tendency in this pose to "hang" on the shoulders, which lifts them up toward the ears and "turtles" the neck. Actively draw the shoulders away from the ears by lengthening down along the back armpits, pulling the shoulder blades toward the tailbone, and puffing the side ribs forward. If you need help learning this, lift each hand on a block.
Strengthens the spine, arms, wrists
Stretches chest and lungs, shoulders, and abdomen
Firms the buttocks
Stimulates abdominal organs
Helps relieve mild depression, fatigue, and sciatica
Therapeutic for asthma
A partner can help you learn about the lift of the chest in this pose. Come into position with a strap looped around your back torso (across the shoulder blades) and under the armpits. Have your partner sit in front of you, a foot or so away, and grip and pull the ends of the strap, while at the same time pressing his/her feet lightly against the fronts of your shoulders. Release the heads of the upper arm bones away from this pressure as you dig the shoulder blades into the back, away from the strap.