Extended Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana)

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Puppy Pose, Sanskrit: Uttana Shishosana, (oo-TAHN-nah shee-SHO-suh-nuh)

uttana (intense) + shisho (puppy) + asana (pose)

Also Known as: Half Dog Pose, Anahatasana, Extended Puppy Pose, Melting Heart Pose

Pose Type: Inversion, Stretching, Stress Relief, Backbend

Difficulty: Beginner

a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing extended puppy pose

Soothe the mind and lengthen and decompress the spine in Puppy Pose

Puppy Pose Fundamentals

Have you been carrying a heavy heart or feeling anxious? Extended Puppy Pose has you covered. Lay down your load and melt your heart to the earth in this deep shoulder stretch that is perfect after a long day, week, or month.

Find this pose toward the end of a vinyasa yoga class or in a restorative session.

Relax the weight of your body entirely as you relieve the areas where we hold the most tension: our neck, shoulders, arms, hips, and thighs.

True to its name, this forward bend Puppy Pose is perfect for readying the shoulders Doward Facing Dog Pose. It’s also a great beginner inversion for those of us wary about coming into more advanced inversions like shoulder stand or headstand. Enjoy all the benefits of being inverted in downward dog and calming soothing effects of a child’s pose in Extended Puppy Pose.

Not only is this pose deeply therapeutic and soothing, but it is also a mini backbend and heart opener perfect for working with the Heart Chakra and why it is also known as Anahatasana. Remember chakras open to the front and back. Imagine light coming into the center middle of your back as you call in jade green light into the center of your back. 

If we are feeling tender-hearted or heartbroken this pose is the perfect balm.

Puppy Pose Benefits

  • Stretches the entire spine and opens the heart.
  • Helps relieve chronic tension in the shoulders and neck.
  • Stretches the torso and lower back.
  • Can reduce back pain.
  • Naturally corrects bad posture and opens the chest.
  • Eases anxiety and calms the nervous system by bringing the body into a slight inversion (the heart over the head) and increasing circulation flow throughout the entire body.

How To Do Extended Puppy Pose: Step-By-Step

How To Get There:

1. Start in Tabletop on all fours, with your hips stacked over your knees, and your hands shoulder width apart. Firm the tops of your feet on the mat and ground in. Keep your shins parallel and hip-width apart.

2. Crawl your fingertips out in front of you as you send your hips back towards your heels and shoot your tailbone up to the sky. Allow your upper body to melt toward the floor and slowly release your forehead to the mat keeping the lower body where it is.

3. Keep your forearms parallel to one another and starfish your and ground your palms into the mat. Press firmly into the thumb and index fingers. Activate Hasta Bandha (Hand Lock) 

4. Broaden through the shoulders and roll the upper arms inward as if you were hiding you were trying to hide your armpits with the biceps spinning up toward the ceiling and triceps rolling down. Elbows will lift slightly off the mat.

5. Reach your hips up and back toward the wall behind you. Continue to let your chest melt toward the floor (heart to earth). Kint your front ribs together to support your spine and lower back.

6. Stay for 5–10 deep breaths imagining tension rolling off your back and onto the mat. Gently come out of the pose by walking back up to Tabletop position.

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing puppy Pose

Tips And Tricks:

  • Try to keep the knees in line with the hips as you send the hips back.
  • Use puppy pose as a warm up for more intense backbends.
  • Try placing a rolled-up blanket between your legs to engage the inner leg muscles and protect your lower back in this pose. A bolster can also be placed underneath the chest to make the pose more restorative.
  • Given that this pose is a mild inversion, coming out quickly may cause dizziness due to a sudden change in blood flow. Remember to ease out of the pose slowly and mindfully.
  • On each exhale, melt the chest into the earth, releasing the upper back.

Puppy Pose Variations:

Extended Puppy Pose On A Blanket

a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing puppy pose with her knees on a blanket

If uncomfortable in the knees, try placing a folded blanket under your knees for added cushion and support. You can adjust the blanket height according to your body and level of comfort.

Extended Puppy Pose On With A Block

a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing extended puppy pose with a block under her forhead

Try placing each elbow on a block and/ or one under the forehead for added support. Prop your elbows up on the blocks one at a time or place them under your hands. If under the elbows, bring your palms together in prayer hands and rest them on the nape of the neck.

Precautions & Contraindications:

Common Misalignments

The tendency might be to splay the elbows out and your shoulders roll inward. This can create tension in your neck and shoulders. Shine mindfulness on this and work on keeping them in line with the wrists.

The knees might want to spread wider than the hips which can cause compression in the lower back and sacrum. Try to keep the knees stacked under the hips.

Shoulder or Knee Injury

This pose does create a lot of flexion in the knee joints and shoulders, if you feel any pain there or are recovering from an injury or surgery, honor your body and skip this pose.

Related Poses

Adho Mukha Savasana (Downward Facing Dog)

Ardha Pincha Mayurasana (Dolphin Pose)

Balasana (Childs Pose)

Preparatory Poses:

Bharmanasana (Table Top Pose)

Virasana (Hero Pose)

Gomukasana (Cow Face Pose)

Counter Poses:

Marjaryasana – Bitilasana (Cat Cow Pose)

Urdha Mukha Savasana (Upward Facing Dog)

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

yogajala break 1000 × 40 px 1

For more in-depth asana resources, check out our free Yoga Pose Library. Here you’ll find complete guides to each and every yoga asana to deepen your yoga knowledge.

Each pose page features high-quality photos, anatomy insights, tips and tricks, pose instructions and queues, asana variations, and preparatory and counter poses.

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Anna is a lifestyle writer and yoga teacher currently living in sunny San Diego, California. Her mission is to make the tools of yoga accessible to those in underrepresented communities.

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