Yoga Poses

4 Ways to Prep for Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

Strengthen your arms and core in these prep poses for Urdhva Mukha Svanasana.

PREVIOUS STEP IN YOGAPEDIA 3 Ways to Modify Dandasana
NEXT STEP IN YOGAPEDIA Challenge Pose: Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
SEE ALL ENTRIES IN YOGAPEDIA

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose, variation)

None
Chris Fanning

BENEFITS 
Expands your chest and allows you to experience the upper actions of Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (the final pose).

INSTRUCTIONS 
Place the mouth of your rib cage (the opening of your lower ribs) on a bolster, bend your knees, and reach back to clasp the outsides of both ankles. Press your feet away from you to help expand your chest. Imagine that you’re zipping up your pubic bone to support your lower abdomen and lumbar spine, which could otherwise collapse under the force of gravity and exertion. (Avoid tucking your tailbone.) Hold for 5 breaths.

See also Alignment Cues Decoded: “Soften Your Front Ribs”

Dandasana to Purvottanasana (Staff Pose to Upward Plank Pose): A

None
Chris Fanning

BENEFITS
Warms your body and strengthens your torso, arms, and hip flexors; simulates the floating aspect of the final pose

INSTRUCTIONS
This dynamic two-pose vinyasa is best done while wearing socks on a slippery floor—or with washcloths under your feet to assist sliding. (Do not do this vinyasa if you have wrist issues, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, disc bulges, a herniation, or are pregnant.) Sit on the floor with a long, neutral spine and your legs straight in front of you. Stack two blocks on each side of your hips (you can also try it without blocks, but the backs of your upper arms will need to work much harder to support your torso).

See also Classic Asana, New Twist: 15 Traditional Poses + Variations

 

Dandasana to Purvottanasana (Staff Pose to Upward Plank Pose): B

None
Chris Fanning

INSTRUCTIONS
Press your palms down firmly into the blocks. Straighten your arms to lift your hips off the floor into a modified Dandasana. Start to swing your hips back and forth, increasing momentum and range. Slowly lift your hips higher in both flexion and extension according to your strength and ability. 

See also Reclining Hip Openers for Athletes

Dandasana to Purvottanasana (Staff Pose to Upward Plank Pose): C

None
Chris Fanning

INSTRUCTIONS
As you pass through Dandasana, begin pulling the bottoms of your shoulder blades together, lift your chest, and push back behind you with your hands—all while pulling in toward you with your feet to lift your hips up and away for Purvottanasana. Exhale as your hips swing back, and inhale as you lift up into Purvottanasana. As you increase your endurance, transition from A to C up to 20 times. If you become short of breath, pause to rest.

See also Alignment Cues Decoded: “Draw Your Shoulder Blades Down”

See also Master Revolved Abdomen Pose

Learn More
Join Alison West for the six-week online course Yoga for Back Health. She’ll help you improve your posture, identify common back problems, and prevent pain and strain. Sign up at yogajournal.com/yogaforbackhealth.

About Our Pro
Alison West is the director of Yoga Union and the Yoga Union Backcare & Scoliosis Center in New York City where she leads yoga teacher trainings, a Backcare and Scoliosis Certification Program, and a Slings and Ropes Certification Program. She also holds a PhD in art history from New York University. Transitioning from sculpture to the human form has led her to 35 years of practice and teaching. Learn more at yogaunion.com.