The Upward Facing Dog: Tips on Alignment


It is common to see the upward-facing dog (or Urdhva Mukha Svanasana) in a yoga class. However, as with any Vinyasa flow or Sun Salutation, there is little time for an alignment check.

It’s still worth it because this pose is also great for strengthening your upper body, wrists, and arms, stretching your shoulders, and improving posture.

What are the things you need to pay attention to when you turn this corner?

Align your shoulders with your wrists.

To protect your joints, it’s important always to stack yourself correctly when you are in a yoga pose. It’s the same with An upward-facing dog. Make sure that your wrists are directly underneath the shoulders in this pose.

You may find it difficult to determine the right alignment at first. If your shoulders are past the wrists, the angle of the wrist joint will increase, making the wrist more vulnerable. If your shoulders are a lot behind your wrists, then your lower back could be bent too much.

Legs up!

The main difference between a Cobra and an Upward-facing dog is that the legs, knees, and pubic bone are lifted from the mat in the latter.

This is achieved by pressing your hands and the tops of your feet onto the mat. Your knees, thighs, and hips will then lift. You can also activate your legs by aligning the wrists underneath your shoulders.

Draw the shoulders downward.

You can easily let your shoulders sag, causing your neck to sink between the shoulders. Lift your arms up and then pull your shoulders back while pulling the shoulder blades downward.

It’s not necessary to look up or to cram the head back. Keep your gaze neutral, and keep your neck long. The focus remains on the back.

Open your heart

As you’re in the pose, try to pull your arms back energetically and bring your chest forward energetically. It will feel like you are trying to move the chest forward by using the arms. As space opens up in your chest, you will feel your shoulder blades moving closer and downward.

Enjoy the space around your heart by keeping the shoulders low and the neck long.

Props can be used to assist.

You can get more space by placing two blocks on the floor so that you have your hands on the blocks instead of the floor. You will be able to do the pose more easily on your back because you have more space.

If you need extra support, you can place a blanket rolled up under your thighs.


  • You can do the Sphinx Pose if you are sensitive or have an injury in your wrists.
  • If you are pregnant or have lower back injuries, avoid the upward-facing dog position.

An upward-facing dog is a healthy back pose. It provides a nice alternative to the common forward rounding. Back-bends can help you to practice vulnerability and create space in your heart.

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