UPWARD FACING DOG – URDVA MUKHA SVANASANA
Urdva Mukha Svanasana, one of the poses of the traditional Sun Salutation that a yogi repeats several times during a practice, helps opening your chest, your heart.
Up Dog involves arching the spine, which is usually a movement of the type “Love it or Hate it”. In both cases, be aware and fully conscious of your posture as you inhale to this pose to enjoy all its benefits and prevent injuries!
You can enter Upward-facing Dog either from Chaturanga, by extending your arms so that your shoulders are right above your fingertips, or from a prone position.
In the latter case, place your hands close to your body, at the level of your lower ribs. Engage your core and lift your torso pushing strongly your hands on the floor. In Up Dog, your feet are on the floor, legs a few inches away from it and hips do not touch the ground.
Press with your arms strongly so that shoulders stay far from your ears; shoulder blades push towards the lower back and the chest is open. Look slightly upwards as you inhale, without putting strain on your cervical.
Attention: wrists and lower back are the most vulnerable parts when executing Up Dog. My suggestion is to get in the pose after a good warm up, reaching the maximum arch of your back gradually. It’s very important not to unload your bodyweight on the lower back; instead, engage your abdominals and actively sustain your core: you will also feel a nice stretch of your abs!
In case you don’t feel ready for Down Dog, you can also opt for safer alternatives like Cobra or Baby Cobra.
BENEFITS AND SYMBOLIC MEANING
Urdva Mukha Svanasana is great to increase back flexibility and arms and wrists strength.
Regarding the energetic body level, opening the chest helps activating the Heart Chakra, Anahata, associated to calmness and serenity and to the love we give and receive.
Like other backbends, Up Dog is stimulates an “extroverted” attitude, which counterbalances our tendency to hump and curl into ourselves, helping to alleviate symptoms of depression and overwhelming.