Upward Facing Dog Pose

Upward Facing Dog Pose (front) - Ina Varshavska


The name Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, comes from the Sanskrit words, ‘urdhva’ = ‘ ‘upward’ ,‘mukha’ = ‘face’ and ‘svan’ = ‘dog’. Hence it is also called the Upward Facing Dog Pose. The body stretches like the way a dog generally stretches and hence the name. This backbend pose works to a great extend on the arms and shoulders strength. This pose is similar to Bhujangasana or the Cobra Pose, the only difference being, that in Cobra Pose the entire lower body touches the floor making a deep back bend and in Upward Facing Dog Pose the lower body from the hips to the ankles are just above the floor and does not touch the floor. Hence the strength of the arms and the shoulders are put to test.

Upward Facing Dog Pose is considered a base pose as upward facing dog pose variations can be derived from this pose.Upward Facing Dog Pose helps boost energy in the body and hence can be included in flow yoga sequences.Upward Facing Dog Pose is considered a warm-up yoga pose to prepare the body for more intense yoga poses / yoga flows.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1
Start by lying belly-down with the arms along side the body, the legs extended behind you and hips distance. Tops of the feet are on the earth.
Step 2
Place your hands, with the fingers spread wide next to your lower ribs. Your fingertips should be inline with your nipples.
Step 3
Elbows are directly above your wrists and are hugging the ribcage.
Step 4
On an inhale, engage the core, press the palms of your hands firmly into the earth and straighten your arms, lifting the chest and legs off the earth. Be sure not to lock the elbows here by keeping a microbend in them.
Step 5
Press the tops of the feet into the earth to keep your legs engaged and lifted off the earth
Step 6
Broaden the collarbones. Draw the shoulders away from the ears as you lift your chest and heart towards the sky. Elbow creases face forward.
Step 7
The backbend should be focused in the thoracic spine, the area behind the heart. Make sure not to dump in the lower back.
Step 8
Your gaze can be forward or upwards. Be sure not to crunch the back of the neck.
Step 9
To release, gently lower back down onto your belly, re-extend your arms along side your body, turn the head to either side and bring your cheek to rest on the earth.

Benefits and Contraindications


Improves posture

Stimulates abdominal organs

Helps relieve mild depression, fatigue, and sciatica

Therapeutic for asthma

Firms the buttocks

Stretches chest and lungs, shoulders, and abdomen

Strengthens the spine, arms, wrists


Back injury

Carpal tunnel syndrome



Photo poses in different angles


Press up actively from the palms, drawing the shoulders away from the ears to keep yourself from hanging in the pose.Draw the chest forward through the arms, moving the shoulder blades towards the tailbone.Keep your legs active, ensuring that the knees stay off the ground. Start with Cobra pose and move into Upward Facing Dog once you’re ready. Look upwards only if you can do so while keeping length in your neck.

Modifications & Variations
  • Upward Facing Dog Pose Leg To Side
  • One Handed Upward Facing Dog Pose
  • Upward Facing Dog Pose Blocks Under Hands Toes Tucked
  • Upward Facing Dog Toes Tucked
  • Upward Facing Dog Hands Aerial
  • Upward Facing Dog Pose One Leg Sideways
  • One Legged Upward Facing Dog Pose
  • Upward Facing Dog Pose With Chair
Top Preparatory Poses
  • Four Limbed Staff Pose
  • Plank Pose
  • Downward Facing Dog Pose
Top Follow-Up Poses
  • Downward Facing Dog Pose
  • Child Pose
  • Wide Child Pose

Iana Varshavska
Iana Varshavska
Website administrator

In love with yoga and everything that goes along with it. Iana is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) who has completed the 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Certification by the Yoga Alliance U.S. In addition to that, she is constantly studying and improving her skills in various aspects of yoga philosophy, yoga anatomy, biomechanics, and holodynamics.