Upward Facing Dog is another common pose in any Vinyasa-style yoga class, but it is not as easy as it appears! This chest-opening pose requires ample arm strength to lift your hips up and away from your mat. If the stretch feels too intense from the start of class, don't be afraid to start off in Cobra Pose, a gentler alternative that offers the same benefits to your upper body.
- From Standing Forward Bend, inhale and lift your chest up with a flat back. Rest your hands on your shins or just below your knees to release your spine.
- As you exhale, place your hands on the mat, and step your feet back one at a time to the top of a push-up or plank position (known as Four-Limbed Staff or the start of a Chaturanga.)
- As you exhale, slowly lower your body in a straight line down toward your mat. Inhale a breath as you scoop your chest forward, balancing on the tops of your feet and your hands, coming into Upward Facing Dog.
- Keep your hips lifted and off the ground, and do your best to press into the tops of your feet and palms simultaneously. If this feels comfortable, start to lift your chin, and lower your head back between your shoulder blades without losing the backbend feel. Pull your shoulder blades down your back, and hold for five breaths.
- When you've completed five breaths, drop your knees to the mat, and press your hips back to Downward Facing Dog.
Photo: Laughing River Yoga