Originated in India thousands of years ago, yoga has become one of the most popular and renowned forms of exercise techniques. Yoga is an ancient art of healing that helps build strength, harmony, awareness, and relaxation in the mind and body. Yoga comprises many aspects that benefit a practitioner at every stage and asana is one of the major aspects of the practice. Yoga poses or asana are of various types and each has their own set of benefits. One such asana is Urdhva Mukha Svanasana or Upward Facing Dog Pose and is a widely popular yoga backbend pose.
The literal translation of this asana is a ‘dog stretching upward’. It also resembles Bhujangasana (cobra pose). These two asanas are easy backbends and are performed during Surya Namaskar. The upward facing dog pose is also performed with Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog Pose. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana is one of the most powerful yoga poses responsible for building strength, awakening the upper body, and preparing the body for intense backbends.
Despite its simple nature, the pose comprises of a lot of benefits, that help you in enhancing the practice.
Seven Top Health Benefits of Upward Facing Dog Pose
Strengthens the Waist, Arms, and Spine
Practicing the asana regularly helps in strengthening the arms, waist, and spine. When you stretch your torso while practicing the asana, it works on making it strong and a strong torso helps to elevate the back pain, relieves sciatica, promotes a healthy spine, reduces the risk of injury especially the back, decreases the risk of vertebrae degeneration and herniated disc, supports the spine, increases self-image, etc.
Relieves Fatigue and Mild Depression
With a daily practice, you feel the energy flow in the body that reduces the feeling of being lethargic. One of the top benefits of Urdhva Mukha Svanasana is that it fights tiredness, fatigue, and gives you a better sleep. The asana is effective when it comes to treating mental conditions like anxiety, stress, mood disorders, and mild depression.
Improves Posture and Flexibility
A good body posture and balance mean prevention from muscle aches, muscle fatigue, proper alignment of bones and joints, prevention of strain, and a relieved back and neck pain. Not only this, the asana is great when it comes to improving the flexibility of the back that results in lower back pain, healthy spine, relieving sciatica, decreases weight and pressure on the vertebra, and makes the body fit, healthy, and strong.
Stretches the Chest, Shoulders, and Buttocks
Practicing Urdhva Mukha Svanasana stretches and firms the muscles of the chest, shoulders, and buttocks, and helps in relaxing these while elevating all the pain. It opens the chest that is great for the heart health, improves flexibility and blood circulation, releases shoulder tension, and strengthens the gluteus muscles.
Stimulates Abdominal Organs
The asana provides an amazing massage to the abdominal organs that prove to be a great way of strengthening the stomach muscles, stimulates vital organs of the body, relieves back pain, releases toxins, improves blood flow, and enhances the functioning of the gallbladder, liver and other organs of the abdomen.
This asana is a great one for the asthmatic and helps in relieving the symptoms. It relieves pain, reduces inflammations, lowers high temperature, prevents asthma attacks, and treats other bronchial problems.
As mentioned, the asana stimulates the abdominal organ and stretches the muscles. This results in flushing out the toxins from the body and an improved digestion. An improved digestion means enhanced metabolism, toxin elimination, weight loss, increased stamina and energy, regular and easy bowel movement, better absorption of nutrients, relief from mood disorders, and a boosted immunity.
Steps to practice Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
- Lie flat on your stomach on the floor with hands placed beside the body and feet together facing downward.
- Now fold your elbows gently, then slide your hands near your waist, and place your palm near the lowest ribs.
- Take a deep breath and firmly press your hands against the floor and then lift your chest, stomach, hips, knees, and shin off the floor.
- Shift your body weight on the palms and feet. Then slightly move your head backward.
- Align your wrists and shoulders. Do not overstretch your neck and hold the pose for a minute.
Precautions and Contradictions
- People with a chronic back injury, slip disc, headache, and carpal tunnel syndrome should avoid practicing the asana.
- Don’t practice it during pregnancy.
There are many asanas inspired by the animals’ stretch and positions, and one of them is Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. As the name of the pose suggests, it is inspired from a dog’s stretch. The asana is just as awesome for the sportspersons.