Urdhv Mukha Shvanasana is the foundation for ability to work with your spine for deeper asanas. In all backbends, it is important to think about not bending your back but about lifting and extending every muscle and joint to assist a backward bend.
First by aligning the shoulders over your palms and keep your feet no wider than hip width apart. Straighten your arms and draw chest forward by rolling the toes until the feet point away from you. Think about lengthening the spine as it creates length throughout your lower body.
Keep the shoulder blades wide by engaging serratus anterior, contracting latissimus dorsi and rhomboids to open the chest area. As your shoulder blades roll down your back, your sternum will lift and allow energy to travel through the top of the head to the extension of the spine.
Keep the legs straight by engaging your leg muscles and deepen the extension, reaching throughout your feet. Focus attention on pelvis; gently push it forward, tilting slightly and hip flexors are lengthened.
At the same time, rectus abdominis is engaged with eccentric contraction to anchor the lower ribs and prevent them from flaring open. The rectus abdominis will lift the pubic bone and allow coccyx to drop. The arm muscles: Deltoid, Biceps branchii and triceps branchii are also in isometric contraction to hold the upper torso upwards.
Lift the chin to the ceiling and keeping the back of the neck long with head taken back. Treat your neck as part of your spine and allow the lift and extension of the backbend to travel through every joint in your body.
Ashtanga Yoga Practice & Philosophy
The Power of Asthanga Yoga
200hr YTTC (Jan to May 2014)