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Extended Puppy Pose

A cross between Child's Pose and Downward-Facing Dog, Extended Puppy Pose lengthens the spine and calms the mind.


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Sanskrit

Uttana Shishosana

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Extended Puppy Pose basics

Benefits

  • Stretches the spine and shoulders
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How to

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Step 1

Come onto all fours. See that your shoulders are above your wrists and your hips are above your knees. Walk your hands forward a few inches and curl your toes under.

More yoga poses for the spine.

Step 2

As you exhale, move your buttocks halfway back toward your heels. Keep your arms active; don’t let your elbows touch the ground.

See also Yoga to Help Scoliosis

Step 3

Drop your forehead to the floor or to a blanket and let your neck relax. Keep a slight curve in your lower back. To feel a nice long stretch in your spine, press the hands down and stretch through the arms while pulling your hips back toward your heels.

Step 4

Breathe into your back, feeling the spine lengthen in both directions. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute, then release your buttocks down onto your heels.

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Beginner tips

You can hold this pose longer and protect your knees and lower back by placing a rolled-up blanket or bolster between your thighs and calves.

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Teacher tips

This pose will challenge students with tight shoulders. Have them also pay attention to the stretch they will feel across the front of the body—across from shoulder to shoulder, and along the length of the front body from neck to pubic bone.

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Varations

Photo: Andrew Clark. Clothing: Calia

Extended Puppy Pose with a block for your head

If your head does not reach the floor in the pose, place a block or combination of blocks and folded blankets in front of you. Rest your head on the props and extend your arms overhead.

Photo: Andrew Clark.

Extended Puppy Pose with a block under your elbows

For a deeper shoulder opening, set a pair of blocks shoulder-width apart in front of you.  When you bend into the pose, set your elbows on the blocks. Bend your arms so that your hands hands reach toward the ceiling in prayer position.

Photo: Andrew Clark. Clothing: Calia
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Extended Puppy Pose with a chair

Stand facing a chair that has been placed on a mat and/or against a wall so it won’t slip. Place a folded blanket on the seat of the chair. Step back a foot or two. Reach out toward the back of the chair as you fold forward. Allow your head to rest on the blanket and your hands to rest on the chair back.

 

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Why we love this pose

The name alone is enough to make Uttana Shishosana a fun pose to practice! It offers a number of variations that enable us to get the most from this back- and shoulder-stretching pose. You can approach this pose by degrees—deepening into it as your upper body opens.

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Preparatory and counter poses

Preparatory Poses

Follow-up Poses