ESSENTIAL YOGA POSTITIONS PART VII
NAMASTE Yoginis and Yogis – it‘s time for our weekly ASANA series!
Without doubt, the UPWARD FACING DOG doesn’t have an easy life being the little brother of the DOWNDOG, the most iconic of all yoga asanas! And if living in the shadow of a famous brother wasn’t hard enough, the UPDOG also happens to be the tougher variation of the cobra pose practiced during sun salutations – so today let’s give this asana the love and attention it deserves!
Urdhva Mukha Svānāsana is most commonly practiced as a part of the Surya Namaskar A and B (sun salutation) sequence, following Chaturanga, the low plank. Energetically it serves as a way to release heat and tension built up during the physically intense low plank pose. It also prepares the body for the following Downward Facing Dog Asana: the heart opening and uplifting effects of Urdhva Mukha Svānāsana then give way to the more grounding character of Downward Facing Dog.
UPWARD FACING DOG
Urdhva Mukha Svānāsana
1. Starting by lying down on your mat with your belly on the mat. The legs are stretched out behind you, keeping them not more than hips distance apart. Place your hands next to your chest, making sure not to let them splay out to the side.
2. Start pressing your palms down into the mat. At the same time, slowly roll your shoulders from the front towards the back. Gently press the heart space forward and reach the crown of the head up towards the ceiling. Make sure not to overstretch and avoid holding tension in your neck.
3. Inhale deeply while lifting your thighs off of the floor by pressing the tops of the feet down and engaging the energy lock Mula Bandha.
4. Continue to breathe deeply and hold for 1-3 breaths.
5. To release, bend your arms and roll back down onto your mat.
COBRA VS. UPDOG: Although they look very similar, there is one major difference between the Cobra asana (Bhujangasana) and Upward Facing Dog: the positioning of your legs and tights. While in upward facing dog, the tighs and legs are lifted up off the mat, they stay down on the floor during Cobra. This makes Cobra an ideal starting point or substitute for Upward Dog, especially for new yogis, who are still building up the muscular strength necessary for this challenging asana.
When practiced regularly, this asana offers great physical and mental benefits:
1. Strengthens your waist, torso, arms and spine
2. Relieves fatigue and mild depression while opening your heart space
3. Improves posture and flexibility
4. Stretches and strengthens the chest, shoulders, and glutes
5. Stimulates Abdominal Organs and maintains a healthy digestion
This time Ariane Gantenbein is the star of our yoga asana photo. She teaches weekly Jivamukti Yoga classes at ATHAYOGA. Join Ariane for class at our studio in Zurich every Thursday evening from 7 pm tp 8.30 pm. Dear Ariane, thank you so much for this beautiful picture, we love the fierce yet elegant energy you radiate in Upward Facing Dog!
Ariane and the ATHAYOGA Team wish you a HAPPY UPDOG PRACTICE
P.S: What is true for this asana is also very true for life in general: keep your head up high!