Upward Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

Urdhva= rising or tendig upward

Mukha= face

Shvana= dog

Asana= pose

Classification: backward- bending support pose

Anatomical Focus


Therapeutic Applications

•  Sciatica


•  Improves posture 

•  Strengthens the spine, arms, wrists 

•  Stretches chest and lungs, shoulders, and abdomen 

•  Firms the buttocks

•  Stimulates abdominal organs 

•  Helps relieve mild depression, fatigue, and sciatica

•  Therapeutic for asthma

Contraindications and Cautions

•  Back injury 

•  Carpal tunnel syndrome 

•  Headache

•   Pregnancy

For Beginners: 

There’s a tendency in this pose to “hang” on the shoulders, which lifts them up toward the ears and “turtles” the neck. Actively draw the shoulders away from the ears by lengthening down along the back armpits, pulling the shoulder blades toward the tailbone, and puffing the side ribs forward. If you need help learning this, lift each hand on a block. 

Modifications for this pose:

Often it’s difficult to keep the legs strongly suspended above the floor. Before you move into the pose, position a thick blanket roll below your top thighs. When you are in the pose, lightly rest your thighs on this roll as you press the tailbone closer to the roll. 

Getting into the pose:

1.  Lie down on the floor, stretch your legs back, with the tops of your feet on the floor. Bend your elbows and spread your palms on the floor beside your waist so that your forearms are relatively perpendicular to the floor (keeping elbows parallel to your wrists).

2.  Inhale and press your inner hands firmly into the floor and slightly back, as if you were trying to push yourself forward along the floor. Exhale, then straighten your arms and simultaneously lift your torso up and your legs a few inches off the floor on an inhalation. Keep the thighs firm and slightly turned inward, the arms firm and turned out so the elbow creases face forward. 

3.  Press the tailbone toward the pubis and lift the pubis toward the navel. Narrow the hip points. Firm but don’t harden the buttocks. Firm the shoulder blades against the back and puff your side ribs forward. Lift through the top of the sternum (avoiding to push the front ribs forward) if you do so it woud unsafely harden the lower back. Look straight ahead or tip the head back slightly, but take care not to compress the back of the neck and harden the throat. 

Transitioning out:

Carefully (on an exhalation) release back your body to the floor or lift into a downward facing dog pose.

 Urdhva Mukha Svanasana is one of the positions in the traditional Sun Salutation sequence. 


Holding this pose for several breaths (at least 5) allows the inhaling action to deepen the extension in the thoracic spine. While the exhalation can assist in stabilizing the lumbar and cervical areas.

Also protect your wrists by maintaining your pronators in the forearms with the intrinsic muscles parallel to each other and stretched. This action will distribute the pressure through the whole hand protecting the heel of it and will decrease the pressure on the wrist simultaneously. 

Anatomical Focus

•  Wrists

Last but not least:

Always transition out mindfully from any yoga pose.  Stay alert, Stay alive



Glenda Lee Santos; Humble Military and Yoga Warrior; RYT-200 hrs; Criminal Justice, BA; Holistic Practicioner with Foundation in Yoga and Ayurveda.


Yoga Anatomy; second edition 

Authors: Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews

Yoga Sequencing 

Author: Mark Stephens

© 2016 Semperlee Yoga Corps. All Rights Reserved.

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