Upward Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

Upward Facing Dog Pose, Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, (oor-dhvuh mu-khuh sh-vaa-naa-suh-nuh)

urdhva (upward) + mukha (face) + svana (dog) + asana (pose)

Also known as: Up Dog, Upward Dog

Pose Type: Backbend, Stretching, Strengthening

Difficulty: Beginner

woman doing upward facing dog pose in yoga

As you move through Upward Facing Dog, float upwards and open your chest

Upward Facing Dog Pose Fundamentals

Upward Facing Dog is a powerful foundational yoga asana that taps into your upper body strength and opens your chest and abdomen with a generous stretch.

One of the most common poses in a Vinyasa Flow, you’ll find Upward Facing Dog in the Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) series.

This wonderful back stretching pose may be just what your body needs after a day of sitting at a desk.

Upward Facing Dog Pose Benefits

  • Strengthens your arms, wrists, and spine
  • Stretches and opens your chest, shoulders, and abdominal muscles
  • Stimulates the internal organs
  • It is an energizing pose
  • Improves posture

How To Do The Upward Facing Dog Pose: Step-By-Step

woman doing upward facing dog pose gif

How To Get There:

1. Begin Upward Facing Dog by lying on your belly with your feet placed hip-distance apart on the mat and your hands pressing down on your mat beside your lower ribs.

2. Activate your legs by pressing down with the tops of your feet.

3. On an inhalation, press down into your hands and feet, straighten your arms and lift your legs.

4. Open your chest forward and up, keeping your legs straight, your hands rooted down, and your shoulders back.

5. Continue the curvature of your spine with your neck.

6. Release on an exhale, floating down to the mat with control.

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing upward facing dog pose

Tips And Tricks:

  • Ensure that your shoulders don’t hunch and draw towards your ears. To avoid this, press through your hands, creating length in the upper body.
  • Be sure to actively press into all ten toes when pressing up. Lift your kneecaps and keep your legs engaged.

Upward Facing Dog pose variation: Knees-down Upward-Facing Dog

If lifting your legs off the floor is too challenging for now, feel free to keep your knees on the mat as you come into Upward Facing Dog. However, remember to still remain active and engaged through the legs.

a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing upward facing dog with her knees down

Precautions & Contraindications:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

Upward Facing Dog Pose requires your wrists to hold a significant amount of your body weight, meaning that this asana could be painful for those with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Back And Neck Injuries:

If you have a back or neck injury or are recovering from surgery, it may be best to avoid this asana and potentially come into gentler backbends such as Baby Cobra Pose or Sphinx Pose. Always listen to your body and if you feel any pain, come out of the pose.

Pregnancy:

During pregnancy, you are not advised to put pressure on the belly area. Regardless, during the 2nd and 3rd trimester, Upward Facing Dod Pose will become nearly impossible.

When pregnant, instead of Upward Facing Dog, try Cow Pose.

Preparatory Poses

Baby Cobra Pose

Cobra Pose

Sphinx Pose

Bridge Pose

Counter Poses

Downward Facing Dog Pose

Child’s Pose

Happy Baby 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.

Photo of author
Maria Andrews is a 200h Registered Yoga Teacher, long distance runner, and adventure lover. She finds joy in learning, experiencing, and connecting.

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