Cody’s Ultimate Guide to Upward Dog

upward dog yoga ultimate guide

Upward Dog is one of yoga’s most widely-known backbends, and an important part of Sun Salutations. While Upward Dog may initially look like a beginner pose, many people get it wrong (specifically, they don’t know to lift the legs) without proper instruction. The information below will give you the tools you need to Up-Dog like a pro!

Upward Dog Benefits:

  • Strengthens the spine, arms, & wrists
  • Improves posture by stretching the anterior spine and strengthening the posterior spine
  • Increases lung capacity, relieves asthma symptoms
  • Relieves sciatica pain, depression, anxiety, & fatigue

Upward Dog: How-To

  1. Begin laying belly-down on your mat. Place hands directly under the shoulders, and draw the shoulder-blades back & together.
  2. Activate your muscles throughout your body, especially in your legs, then push up on your hands.
  3. Straighten both arms completely, allowing the whole body to gently rise off the floor.
  4. Actively allow the chest to move forward & tip your head back, opening the front of your body & your airways
  5. Maintain strength in the legs & back, suspending the hips, thighs, & knees off the floor.
  6. To exit upward dog, lower yourself slowly back onto the ground, or transition into Downward Dog.

If you learn better through video, check out this Yoga Basics program with Patrick BeachYoga Basics is a set of video tutorials made for people who want to try yoga, but are too scared to go to a studio first.

Upward Dog: Beginner Variations

upward dog yoga guideSphinx Pose: 

This gentle beginner backbend is a good starting point for people who cannot yet comfortably perform upward dog. Lay on the ground, place the elbows directly under the shoulders with palms flat on the ground, and press the upper body up. Your forearms stay connected to the ground, as well as your ribs, pelvis, and legs.

upward dog yoga guide Cobra Pose:

This is a deeper backbend than Sphinx. Lay with your belly on the ground, and place your hands directly under the shoulders. Press up on your hands, lifting your upper body off the ground, but allowing the pelvis & legs to stay connected to the floor.


Also check out Cody’s Ultimate Guide to Downward Dog & Chaturanga.

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