Upward Facing Dog
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
Setup and Key Actions
Lie on your belly. Bend your elbows, and walk your hands back so that your wrists are directly under your elbows. Stretch your legs back behind you, and press all toenails (especially your pinky toenails) into the floor. Bow your head slightly and look toward the floor. Lift the fronts of your shoulders away from the floor. On an inhale, lift your chest to rise up into cobra pose.
From cobra, lift your thighs away from the floor; continue to broaden your collarbones, and lift your chest as you begin to straighten your arms. Keep your gaze forward or move the back of your head back slightly to follow the lift of your chest, keeping the back of your neck long. Don't be in a rush to straighten your arms fully—a micro-bend in your elbows can help you access more chest expansion.
If your shoulders are forward of your wrists, lower back down onto your belly and start again with your hands a little more forward. If your wrists are far forward of your shoulders, lower back down and start again with your hands a little further back.
Keep your thighs lifted off the floor in updog. Lead with your chest. Continue to broaden your collarbones and lift your sternum, letting the back of your head move back to follow the lift in your chest (moving from the back of your head instead of your crown will help to keep length in the back of your neck). Arms straightening and head moving back are the last elements of the pose.
Want to enjoy an updog without going the typical chaturanga route? Try this: From plank, “flip/flip” your feet by placing first the top of your right foot, then the top of your left foot, on the floor. Without touching your thighs (or pelvis) to the floor, lower your pelvis, and broaden and lift your chest to come right into upward facing dog. To exit the pose, roll over the tops of your feet and press right back to downdog. (Remember to alternate the “flip/flip” action so that you occasionally flip your non-habitual foot first.)