The Upward- Facing Dog Asana is part of the Sun Salutations and also, in the Vinyasa flow sequences. I was introduced to the Upward-Facing Dog Asana in my very first yoga lesson.
As much as I loved the muscle aches that I received after the lesson, I hated how my elbows felt like they were about to give way any moment and how my neck and lower back hurt while I was performing the asana. I never really gave it much thought and conveniently, always blamed it on my lack of strength. It took me until much later to realise that the pain was due to the incorrect Asana technique.
So what is the proper technique to get into the Upward-Facing Dog Asana?
- Lie on the yoga mat on your stomachs.
- The top of the feet should be on the mats with toes pointed towards the back of the mat. The feet should be no more than hip width distance apart.
- Bend the elbows and place the palms beside the waists, with fingers pointing to the top of the mat.
- Ground your palms firmly to the mat and life your torso, pelvis and knees off the mat.
- Straighten your elbows until your shoulders and elbows are in one straight line. For people with hyper-extended elbows, always maintain a micro-bend on the elbow, to prevent any pain or injury to the elbows.
- Pull your shoulder blades together and down, and shoulders should be away from the ears. This prevents any strain on the neck.
- If comfortable, and without compressing the back of the neck, slightly drop the head backward and gaze at the third eye.
- Press the tailbone towards the pubis, and pull the pubis towards the navel without hardening the glutes. No lower back pain or strain should be felt.
- Rotate the thighs inwards slightly and the knees should be lifted off the mat.
- Press the top of the feet firmly onto the mat.
A common misalignment problem faced with this asana is placing the weight on the wrists. This causes an awful lot of pain to the wrists, the shoulders to be by the ears with the chest dropping and eventually causing lower back pain. Therefore, one should be especially be mindful of step no. 6 as mentioned above. My lower back has certainly started to thank me for doing so.
200 hr YTT – Weekend