Upward Facing Dog is often done as part of a flow sequence, but it can also be beneficial all on its own. It is similar to Cobra, but with only the tops of the feet and the hands touching the floor, creating a more active pose.
Start in Chaturanga with weight distributed evenly across the entire hand. On an inhale, roll forward over the toes, reach the chest through the shoulders and straighten the arms. As you move the sternum forward, try to keep the lower ribs from sticking out too far in front. The elbows should stay in by the sides of the torso (with the inner creases of the elbows facing as forward as possible while still keeping weight on the inside of the hands). The shoulders should be pulled back and down, but take care not to tighten the upper back. Gaze forward or a little bit up but don’t compress the back of the neck.
Lightly tuck the tailbone and narrow the hip bones by rolling the upper thighs lightly inward. The quads should be active and the kneecaps stable. The glutes will be engaged but try not to clench them.
You want to find a back bend that is equally distributed between the lower, middle, and upper back. You can assist this action by pulling the hands lightly back toward the waist. You should feel a lengthening of the spine and not compression of the low back. As you extend the spine, engage the deeper muscles of the back while preventing the lats and other more surface muscles from hardening and inhibiting the movement and opening of the spine and ribs.
You can stay in the pose for as long as you like.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you or see you at one of my classes!