Backward Bends


Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)

Upward Facing Dog Pose
Level: All levels

Urdhva = Upward. Mukha = Mukha = face or mouth. Shvana = a dog.

You can come into this pose in either of two ways: rolling forward from Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) or from the floor. The second is presented here.

Organizing the Pose


  1. Lie flat on the floor on the belly with the arms by the sides and the feet hip width apart.
  2. Place the hands on either side of the ribcage.
  3. Press the tops of the feet down and reach through the legs.
  4. Press the hands back towards the hips.
  5. Exhale and curl up into the pose, sweeping the chest forward through the arms and lifting the thighs and knees off the floor.
  6. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds.
  7. Exhale and release down with control.

Practice Points


  • Soften and widen the buttocks and the backs of the thighs.
  • Lengthen the tailbone towards the feet.
  • Strengthen and lift the inner thighs.
  • Press the palms back and reach the sides of the trunk forward and up.
  • Widen the collarbones and upper back evenly.
  • Press the shoulder blades forward and down towards the palms.
  • Soften and widen the back of the neck.