Upward Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

Asana Type: Backbends
Level: Intermediate

Take plank pose. Bend arms, lowering pelvis and thighs. Arch the back upwards, keeps arms straight and try to keep the legs straight without knees touching the mat. Only the top of the feet are on the mat.

Props & Assistance:
It can be difficult to keep the legs off the floor. Before getting into the pose you can position a rolled up blanked below the tops of the thighs so that you can rest on this.

Cobra is a similar pose with legs on the ground. The deeper spitting Cobra pose has straight arms which increase the backbend.

Preparatory poses:
To do this pose you need to be open in the wrists, elbows, shoulders, chest, abdominals, hip flexors, knee flexors and calves. Poses which help are as follows:

  • Cobra
  • Chaturanga Dandasana
  • Sphinx
  • Plank
  • Locust
  • Bridge

You also need strength and stability in the wrists, elbows, arms, chest, shoulders, back muscles, knee muscles and calves. Poses that can help with this include:

  • Downward dog
  • Half standing forward bend
  • Crescent pose
  • Cobra
  • Cat
  • Locust
  • Chaturanga Dandasana
  • Low lunge

Follow up poses:
This pose prepares you for many key yoga poses including:

  • This pose helps warm up for deeper backbends such as King Pigeon
  • Helps to encourage you to lift the chest in poses like Mountain and Hero
  • Good counter poses include: Downward facing dog, half spinal twist, knees to chest and child’s pose


  • Improves posture
  • Strengthens the spine, arms, wrists
  • Stretches chest, lungs, shoulders and abdomen
  • Firms the buttocks
  • Stimulates abdominal organs
  • Helps relieve mild depression, fatigue and sciatica
  • Therapeutic for asthma


  • Back injury
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Headache
  • Pregnancy
  • If you are thinking of starting yoga and have a medical condition, it is advisable to check with your doctor

Written by Sarah Williams. Sarah is a Qualified Yoga Teacher based in London with an online presence on Instagram and Facebook. She also blogs about yoga and health & wellbeing topics on her website. Sarah’s focus is Vinyasa Flow, Hatha and Ashtanga styles of yoga and she completed part of her yoga teacher training in India. https://sarahlucyyoga.wixsite.com/yoga, @sarahlucyyoga


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