Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

Upward facing dog or urdhva mukha svanasana is one of the basic yoga postures. It is an activating, stimulating posture. In upward facing dog, we create a backbend or spinal extension. The chest (pectoralis muscles) get stretched and we simultaneously stretch and activate the hip flexors (psoas and rectus femoris). The core becomes active.

Common Mistakes


  • Limitation in thoracic extension. Due to a rounded back (kyphosis) some students may not be able to open the chest. Prepare with postures that work on opening the upper spine, such as a low cobra, or anahatasana (melting heart pose).

  • Tension in the chest region (pectoralis muscles). Due to tightness, the shoulders will draw forwards and limit the opening of the chest. Prepare by stretching the chest muscles for example in a seated or reclined twist.

  • Tightness in the hip flexors will create a forward tilted pelvis (anterior), and create tension in the lower back. Preparatory postures to stretch the hip flexors are lunges, warrior poses and dragons.

  • We often tend to draw our shoulders up towards the ears. It’s important to remember this in upward dog pose as well. Make sure to draw shoulder blades down and in towards the chest. 

Overall, when practiced safely, this posture can be of great benefit! It will counter balance our often too much rounded forwards posture! It will bring about a sense of opening and release of positive and happy emotions.

Written by Tara Chirimar

Tara Chirimar is an E-RYT 500 / YACEP (YA) certified Yoga teacher and a certified psychologist. Her classes aim to inspire a higher connection to the self and to reach deeper into one’s soul, to the place of inner peace and stillness. Her classes focus on healthy and organic alignment while using meditation as the centre of the practice. Tara teaches Hatha / Vinyasa / Yin / Nidra / Meditation and has taught several thousands of classes over the last years.


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