Often confused with the Cobra pose the Upward Facing Dog pose (or the Urdhva Mukha Svanasana) represents the three root words of the pose. In Sanskrit, urdhva means “upward”, mukha means “face”, and svana stands for “dog”.

Whilst the Cobra pose is one that involves a back bend, the Upward Facing Dog or the Upward Dog pose is one where the back bend is deeper. Also, while both are reclining postures where the practitioner is raised up on the arms, upward facing dog pose uses straight arms and lifts the belly from the floor. The cobra posture on the other hand, requires the practitioner to bend the elbows and keep the belly on the floor.

[blockquote author=”” pull=”normal”]The Upward Dog pose aids with the opening of the chest and the strengthening of the whole body, while it aligns the spinal column and invigorates the kidneys and the nervous system.[/blockquote]


  • Strengthens the arms, wrists and spine;
  • Improves posture;
  • Stretches chest, lungs, abdomen and shoulders;droop
  • Firms the buttocks; and
  • Stimulates abdominal glands.

People who are newly beginning this practice must practice the pose with much caution, for although it looks like a simple pose, it should not be underrated. If you are a beginner, try and not droop from the shoulders or hold the shoulders up whilst in this pose, the idea here is to draw the shoulders away from the ears by pulling the shoulder blades towards the tailbone.

However if you suffer from back injury, carpal tunnel syndrome and are pregnant, you must practice the pose with even greater caution and most of the time the best advice is when suffering from any condition or are pregnant it is best to seek the advice of a teacher before you practice the pose. Although the pose lends relief to those suffering from back aches, it may not be a suitable pose for many people with back problems.

What to do:

  • Lie on your stomach, arms at your sides. Open your palms and bend your elbows, keeping the arms close to the sides.
  • On an inhale, straighten the arms and all at once, raise your torso and legs a few inches off the floor.
  • Draw strength from the core of the body by firming but not tightening the lower body.

Open the chest by drawing the shoulder blades down into the back. A pose which invigorates the whole body, it helps blood move from the pelvic region to the whole body, thus increasing health and vitality. Whilst giving you strength in your arms, it provides overall strength to the core of the human body.


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