What’s Up, Dog?

Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svansana) is one of the first few poses that I have been exposed to when I just started practicing asanas.
Infact, it is one of the poses that most people do during an asana practice because it is part of the Sun Salutation sequence which connects the other asanas together. It is not an advanced pose or a peak pose where most people look forward to achieving. It is a foundational pose which must be practiced correctly to prevent injuries since it is possible to do more than 20 upward facing dog pose during a vinyasa flow session.
To get into the pose correctly, lie down on your belly and place your palms close to your chest. Roll the shoulders open to stretch the pectoralis muscles as well as the rhomboid muscles between the shoulder blades. The entire spine will be extended from the thoracic spine.
Extend the elbow and lift to open up the chest and it is important to keep the shoulders away from the ears by moving the shoulder blades down and towards each other. The wrist joints should be parallel to the front edge of the mat. If your shoulders are in front of your wrists, the acute angle will put too much pressure on the wrist joints. The triceps brachii muscles are engaged and strengthened. The neck should be long by engaging the neck flexor muscles gently. The erector spinae muscles as well as the gluteus maximus of our buttock will contract. The teres minor and teres major muscles at the back will also be strengthened in this pose. Lift the hips and thighs off the mat to keep the adductor muscles engaged. The pelvic floor muscles will also be gently engaged. Tailbone should be tucked and feet should be pressed firmly into the mat to avoid any tension in the lumbar spine.
Only the palms and the tops of the feet should be in contact with the floor.
It’s amazing how many muscles are working at the same time during an upward facing dog pose. It not only engages and strengthens the back muscles but it is effective for opening the chest and shoulders.
200hr YTT Vinyasa Sept 2015 (Weekend)

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