How To Do The Urdhva Mukha Svanasana And What Are Its Benefits

Written by , BA Shirin Mehdi BA Experience: 3 years

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana or Upward Facing Dog Pose is an asana. Sanskrit: ऊर्ध्वमुखश्वानासन; Urdhva – Upward, Mukha – Face, Svana- Dog, Asana – Pose; Pronounced As – OORD-vah MOO-kah svon-AHS-anna

This asana is named Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, literally translated into Upward Facing Dog Pose because it resembles a dog stretching upwards. This asana is known as the cousin of the Bhujangasana or the Cobra Pose because it is quite similar to it. These two backbends are among the easiest yoga backbends and are usually performed as a part of the Surya Namaskar.

Everything You Need To Know About The Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

  1. What You Should Know Before You Do The Asana
  2. How To Do Upward Facing Dog Pose
  3. Precautions And Contraindications
  4. Beginner’s Tips
  5. Advanced Pose Alterations
  6. Benefits Of The Upward Facing Dog
  7. The Science Behind The Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
  8. Preparatory Poses
  9. Follow-Up Poses

What You Should Know Before You Do The Asana

This asana must be performed on an empty stomach. You must have your meals at least four to six hours before you practice yoga. You must also make sure that your bowels are empty.

It is best to practice yoga early in the morning. But, in case you have other chores to run, you can do so in the evening as well. Just remember to leave a good gap between your meals and your practice.


Level: Basic
Style: Vinyasa
Duration: 15 to 30 seconds
Repetition: None
Stretches: Shoulders, Abdomen, Thorax, Lungs
Strengthens: Arms, Vertebral column, Wrists

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How To Do Upward Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

1. Lie flat on the ground with your belly towards the floor. Your feet must face downwards, and your arms must be placed beside your body.

2. Gently fold your elbows. Place your palms next to your lowest rib.

3. Inhale. Press your hands on the mat as you gently lift your knees, hips, and torso off the mat. Your body weight must be spread across the top of your feet and your palms.

4. Look ahead, slightly tilting your head backward.

5. Make sure that your wrists are in the same line as your shoulders, and that your neck is not over stretched.

6. Hold the pose for a few seconds. Exhale and release.


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Precautions And Contraindications

You must avoid this asana if you suffer from the following:

1. Back injuries
2. Carpal tunnel syndrome
3. Headaches
4. Pregnancy

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Beginner’s Tips

As a beginner, there might be a tendency to hang on your shoulders when you get into this pose, such that your shoulders are close to your ear, and your neck sneaks out like a turtle’s. You must keep in mind that your shoulders must be drawn back and lengthened down as you pull your shoulder blades towards your tailbone. If you cannot do it consciously, use blocks to rest your hands. Your shoulder blades will automatically be in place.

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Advanced Pose Alterations

To deepen the stretch and increase your strength, you must press your feet more firmly against the floor. This will help lift your sternum and push it forward. For this, you must push your feet from the back of your knees, through your calves, and all throughout your feet.

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Benefits Of The Upward Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

These are some amazing benefits of the Urdhva Mukha Svanasana.

1. It helps to stretch as well as strengthen the back, thus relieving lower backache.

2. The arms and the wrists are strengthened as the body weight rests on them.

3. This asana helps improve the body posture.

4. The abdominal organs are stimulated. Therefore, digestion is improved.

5. The lungs, shoulders, and chest are stretched, and the buttocks are firmed up.

6. Practicing this asana helps relieve sciatica, depression, and fatigue. It also helps cure asthma.

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The Science Behind The Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

This asana helps to make the spine more supple and open up the back in all directions. It also helps to stretch the front area of the thighs and the hip flexors. The wrists are strengthened, and they tend to become more flexible. With regular practice, this pose has the ability to open up the ribcage fully, and also helps to increase your stamina such that you breathe to your full capacity. All of this makes this asana ideal for athletes and sportspeople.

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Preparatory Poses

Setu Bandhasana

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Follow-Up Poses


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Dogs are man’s best friend indeed! They are faithful companions, and they teach you so much. Who could tell that the way they stretch could be so beneficial? The human race has so much to learn from the animal kingdom. But first, we need to learn to be kinder to them. I forgot to mention that this asana will make you more compassionate too.

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Shirin Mehdi

Shirin MehdiHealth & Wellness Writer

Shirin is a health and wellness writer with three years of experience and specializes in writing articles on yoga and has extensive knowledge about the postures of the asanas. Prior to joining Stylecraze, she interned with an advertising firm as a copywriter and as an editorial intern for a luxury fashion magazine. Always muddled up between traditions and modernism, full bio

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