Yoga Pose Focus: Upward Facing Dog

Yoga Focus on Upward Facing Dog
Upward Dog. This view helps to see the lifting action required in the upper body. Note how the shoulders are not compressed together but rather you can see the lift happening up and out of the shoulder area.

Yoga Focus on Upward Facing Dog

Welcome to a Yoga Focus on Upward Facing Dog. This is a fairly challenging pose that is often contained in our Vinyasa Flow or “power yoga” classes. Ohhhhh yoga class names, they crack me up sometimes! The main focus of this article is to help people discover a more stable Upward Facing Dog. This is because we all deserve to understand more about our bodies!

Where will I often find Upward dog?

Upward Facing Dog often comes after we move from a High Plank position to a Low Plank position, which is similar to the lowering down portion of a push-up. After arriving in this low push up position we need to flip our feet over so that we are now on the tops of our feet, then press down into the ground and lift our upper body all the way up, similar to the position you see in the photograph above.

Yoga Focus
Downward Dog. Matthew could probably bend his knees a little in this pose to help the slight rounding of his lower back. By bending his knees he would be able to lengthen a bit more out of his lower back area, which might put less compression on those parts of his spine. *Note that the heels do NOT need to reach the ground in Downdog*
Use those shoulder muscles (gooooo seratus anterior!)

When we lift up like this we want to really press those hands down and lift up out of the shoulder area. A lot of the time, individuals do not really lift up and out of their shoulders, which can create a lot of compression in that area of the body. Because of this compression some people may find this pose uncomfortable on their shoulders.

Next time you try Upward Facing Dog try deeply connecting to the ground with each finger and thumb, corkscrewing the hands down into the ground almost as if you were opening and closing jars with your hands.

Try it right now!
  1. Move your body into Downward Facing Dog. Do this by starting in a high plank (high pushup) position, then lift your hips up into the air.
  2. Press down with your palms. Lengthen through the mid upper spine into the shoulders. Allow your knees to bend if you feel like your lower back is rounding a lot.
  3. Now as you Inhale move forwards into high plank again. Have your heels roughly above your toes, and your shoulders roughly above your palms. This is usually a great starting position for moving down into low plank.
  4. As you Exhale lower your body down into low plank position by bending your elbows. As you do this press back slightly with your heels, as if pressing into a small button. This will help keep strength in your lower body, and help to engage the leg/core connection. This really helps folks who feel that this movement is too challenging on their upper body.
  5. After arriving in low plank flip each foot one at a time so that you’re now on the shoelace side edge of your feet, the tops. You will be here on the tops of your feet in low plank for only a second.
  6. Now PRESS UP with your arms and upper body so that you lift all the way out of your shoulders. Try not to allow the shoulder blades (scapula) compress upward to the ears/neck. Instead press down so that you can feel your shoulder blades slide down the back of your body and slightly together. Your chest will be lifted, and your gaze can go forwards or up to the ceiling. Corkscrew your hands down into the ground.
  7. Now begin to lift your hips back up towards the ceiling, flipping your feet back over one at a time, so that you’re now on the front pads of your feet. Your should now be back in Downward Facing Dog, where we started.
More from Matthew Carter

Thanks for tuning in for this Yoga Focus on Upward Facing Dog, hopefully you find it helpful during your future sessions. If you would like to know more about Matthew Carter’s yoga offerings visit the links below: