Upward Facing Dog Pose: The Ultimate Spine Stretch

Upward facing dog

Upward facing dog pose, also known as Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, is the ultimate spinal stretch. In this one pose, you stretch your entire spine including your neck. That makes this pose unique. Many heart-opening poses may stretch either your neck, upper back, middle back, lower back, or a combination of those zones. However, few poses stretch all of those areas like Upward facing dog.

That being said, I want to warn you that although this pose is very common, it is also very challenging. It’s particularly important to be especially mindful of your form throughout your practice of this pose to make sure that you don’t hurt your back. Here’s more on how to practice this pose correctly.

Upward Facing Dog Pose

  1. Use ujjayi breathing.
  2. Begin on your stomach with your legs parallel, feet hip-width apart.
  3. Place your hands besides your chest. Broaden your collarbones and roll your scapulas (shoulder blades) onto your back.
  4. Press down through the tops of your feet, and engage your abdominals.
  5. Inhale as you lift your head and chest off the floor as you straighten your arms. Make sure that your scapulas stay securely placed on your back. The last thing you want is to drop in to your shoulders and let them slide up toward your ears. If this happens to you, lower out of that position immediately and try again.
  6. Engage your glutes to help you open further through your spine.
  7. Lift your kneecaps off the mat.
  8. Allow your head to look up as far as it will go.
  9. Hold and breathe. Because this pose is so advanced, you decide how long you should hold.
  10. To come out of this pose, tuck your chin, bend your elbows, and lower to the ground.
  11. Because of the heart-opening nature of this pose, I recommend that you take a minute to practice the spinal rotation pose of your choice.

Upward Facing Dog Pose Video

Here is a video for visual learners.

Which part of this spinal stretch do you like best? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Sarah Stockett

Hi, I'm Sarah! I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. I believe you can use simple exercises to relieve your aches + pains. AND, I believe I can teach you how.