Back to Basics: Upward-Facing Dog Breakdown

If you mindlessly breeze through Up Dog countless times per class, protect yourself from injury by taking some time to practice this advanced approach to the basic backbend.
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If you mindlessly breeze through Up Dog countless times per class, protect yourself from injury by taking some time to practice this advanced approach to the basic backbend.
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Even if you could sail through Surya Namaskar in your sleep, we invite you to join us in revisiting the keystones of asana. Unlearn what you know, break your bad habits, and see if you can’t makeover your entire flow by re-focusing on a few foundational poses. Try an advanced approach to basic asana with SmartFLOW teacher trainer Tiffany Russo. Get #backtobasics with us all month on Facebook and Instagram.

Backbends—love them or leave them? Many people feel strongly one way or the other. Maybe that's why Urdhva Mukha Svanasana is a pose that many yogis tend to breeze right through in a vinyasa class—often with very little instruction or attention. The less mindful we are of what is happening in the moment, though, the more room we make for opportunities to injure ourselves. In Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, the most vulnerable body parts are the low back and the wrists. But by practicing this posture with more awareness and attention to your approach, you can actually find more space, length, and integrity in the body. That lends itself to increasing the longevity of your practice—and the enjoyment you get out of every single vinyasa.

When it comes to backbends, however, often less really is more and better. Listen to your body. If moving into a bigger backbend, like Upward-Facing Dog, is too much too soon, then warm up the shoulders and upper back in Baby Cobra first. In Baby Cobra, you can work most of these same actions to prepare yourself for a safer Up Dog. Feel ready for a bigger backbend? Let’s break it down.

5 Steps to Your Most Mindful Urdhva Mukha Svanasana