Upward Facing Dog: (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

Name: Upward Facing Dog:

Sanskrit:  Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

Pronunciation: OORD-vah MOO-kah shvan-AHS-anna

Pose Level: Beginner level yoga pose

upward facing dog


  • Begin lying with your belly on your yoga mat. Keep the top of your feet on the ground; legs hip-width apart;
  • Place your hands under your shoulders, pay attention to the elbows, which should not be wide, but tight against the body.
  • Once you have found the position, push with your hands on the ground, raising your chest and pelvis. If you have recently approached yoga and are unable to lift your pelvis, that’s okay. Overtime and with constant practice you will be able to lift with more strength. Alternatively, you may try lifting the chest with Bhujangasana, or Cobra Pose.
  • When lifting your chest, focus on your shoulders. Keep them open and pressed downward. Limit the backward arch you create.
  • Once you have reached a comfortable bend and good stretch, attempt to bring your head back slightly. Alternatively, you can keep the gaze forward. At this stage it is essential not to contract the neck.
  • You are in Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. Hold this position for a few breaths, extending the hold over time.

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  • Chest
  • Arms/Shoulder
  • Back
  • Glutes
  • Pelvic
  • Psoas
  • Neck

Pose Modifications:

Upward-Facing dog dog position can be performed by both the most experienced, and those new to the practice. This asana is a backward bend that allows a significant elongation of the spine and torso.

Related Article: How to Know When I’m Ready For Advanced Asanas? Advanced Yoga

It can take time to develop the strength needed to master this asana. Thus, practicing an asana like Bhujangasana, Cobra, may suit you better at the moment. Cobra allows for slightly better control of the bend.

Initially, place a yoga pillow between your thighs and the mat. This will help tremendously in supporting your body weight. Alternatively, move it further forward, under the pelvis, as you like for comfort.

If you prefer to deepen the position you can put two yoga bricks under your palms. In this way the back is arched more expressively.


You should avoid Upward Facing Dog in certain instances. For example, those that suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. Another contraindication includes pregnancy or lower back pain. In addition, if you have pain in your elbows, shoulders or neck. Always consult a yoga instructor if unsure how to get the most out of this position or other asanas.

Poses Commonly Transitioned too:

Downward-Facing Dog

Poses Commonly Transitioned From:

Cobra Pose, Chaturanga Dandasana, Eight Limbed Pose