yoga pose of the month

Hello, yogi’s!  This month’s pose is Upward Facing Dog “Urdva Mukha Svanasana” This is a very powerful posture that strengthens the upper body, opens your chest and abdomen, and creates space in your spine. 

 

How to properly get into Upward Facing Dog

1.     Start out on your belly

2.    Hands under your shoulders

3.    Press through hands to lift body

4.    Draw your shoulders down away from your ears.

5.    Lift your heart up.

6.    Gaze forward and toward the sky with each exhale.

7.    Draw your shoulder blades together and down your back. 

8.    Press into your feet to lift your knees.

9.    Hold for 3-5 breath cycles

 

Throughout your yoga practice you may have noticed your teacher taking you through a vinyasa flow that included an Upward Facing Dog and Cobra Pose “Bhujangasana”  There are distinct differences between these two poses.   An Upward Facing Dog elevates your hips and pelvis while a Cobra allows the legs, pelvis and lower ribs to rest on your mat.

Did you know an Upward Facing Dog is also a backbend?  A backbend maintains stability in your lower abdomen and lengthens your lower back.  Once you begin to bring awareness to belly and back, you may notice increased flexibility and less tension, especially through your shoulders and chest.

In a Upward Facing Dog, pretend to pull your chest forward and through, instead of merely pushing your chest away from the floor.   We should use the legs, chest and shoulder muscles to get fully into the pose.  After all, these are the targeted muscles, so let’s start using them.

Now,  how to properly do Cobra.

1.   Start out on your belly

2.   Hands under your shoulders

3.   Press hands down and through top of your mat

4.   Straighten arms or feel free to keep a generous bend in your elbows (see below).

5.   Press the tops of your feet, legs and pelvis into the floor

6.   Lift chest off of the mat

7.   Gaze forward and toward the sky with each exhale

8.   Hold for 3-5 breath cycles.

 

If you are new to yoga or have been out of practice, be sure to take your time coming back.  Listen to your body, if you have any pain or discomfort, STOP, get out of the pose, take a couple of breath cycles, then try it again.   Below, I have provided an example of cobra if you happen to be new to the yoga practice.  It is imperative to relax the lower back, soften the buttocks, and slowly press into your finger pads with bent elbows.  Look straight ahead, if it feels good to your body, with each exhale, begin to take your gaze up toward the sky.  Hold this posture for 3-5 breath cycles. 

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Yoga is not about getting into “shapes” or comparing yourself to somebody else on a nearby yoga mat, or on the internet.  It is about Y.O.U. and your journey and what you learn about yourself along the way.  I have learned to let things go, embrace change and for the first time in my life, I finally realize what my Dad taught me many years ago, ”patience is a virtue".  Funny how long it took me to apply this to my life. 

 

All my best,

Teresa