Challenge yourself! Join Liz Arch for an arm-balance workshop at Yoga Journal LIVE! Florida, Sunday, November 13 (get your ticket now!), then sign up for her 6-week online course to master more Challenge Poses.
uttana = stretched out · shishu = puppy · asana = pose
Stretches the upper back, spine, and shoulders; opens the chest; helps release chronic tension in the shoulders and neck
- Come into Tabletop—on all fours, with your hips stacked directly over your knees, and your shoulders over your wrists. Rest the tops of your feet on the mat, toes pointing straight back. Keep your feet parallel and hip-width apart.
- On an exhalation, begin to walk your hands out in front of you. Allow your chest to melt toward the floor as you slowly release your forehead to the mat.
- Spread your fingers and press firmly into the thumb and index fingers. Activate Hasta Bandha (Hand Lock) by rooting into your finger pads and creating a lifting action like a suction cup in your palms. Roll your upper arm bones outward away from your ears to broaden the shoulders. Feel your triceps wrapping down toward the outer edges of the mat as your biceps spin up toward the ceiling. Keep your arms active and lift your elbows slightly off the mat.
- On your next inhalation, deepen into the stretch by reaching your hips up and back toward the wall behind you; meanwhile, continue to let your chest melt down toward the floor. Gently hug in—or corset—your front ribs to support your spine and prevent collapsing into the lower back.
- Breathe deeply into the stretch and hold for 5–10 breaths.
- Release the pose by walking your hands back to Tabletop position.
See also Learn about Cow Face Pose
Don’t let the knees spread wider than the hips and/or allow the front ribs to protrude dramatically. This can cause compression in the lower back and sacrum.
Don’t let your elbows splay out and your shoulders roll inward. This can create tension in your neck and shoulders.
About Our Pro
Our Pro Teacher and model Liz Arch is the creator of Primal Yoga, a fusion of vinyasa yoga with the artistry of kung fu and the grace of tai chi. She has more than 10 years experience in various yoga and martial-arts styles, including Northern-Style Kung Fu, Yang-Style Tai Chi, and Self-Healing Qi Gong. She is the West Coast Director for the Purple Dot Yoga Project, a nonprofit that raises awareness about domestic violence, and she travels the world teaching. Learn more at lizarch.com.