Urdhva Mukha Svanasana: Upward Facing Dog Pose
Urdhva mukha svanasana (OORD-vah MOO-kah shvon-AHS-anna) is a challenging backbend commonly seen as part of the transition series in vinyasa yoga.
Philosophy + Origin
The Mahabharata tells a story about a loyal dog who accompanies Yudhishthira, one of the five Pandava brothers, to the gates of heaven. Lord Indra greets the pair at the gates, but tells Yudhishthira that the dog is not allowed into heaven. Upon hearing this, the brother argues for the sake of the dog, telling Lord Indra of its devotion and loyalty. Yudhishthira says that because the dog has been so loyal to him, he will return that loyalty. At this moment, the dog is revealed to be Dharma, and Yudhisthira and his loyal companion are welcomed joyously into heaven. When practicing upward facing dog, remind yourself of the loyalty and dedication you have to your practice and showing up each day in your life. Persistence is always rewarded.
- Place your hands on blocks to create more space in the body.
- Look straight ahead rather than lifting the gaze.
- Place a rolled blanket under the thighs for lift and support.
- Begin lying on your belly with legs extended behind you, tops of your feet on the ground. Place your hands on your mat just behind your shoulders, close to your torso.
- Press your feet firmly into the ground to engage your legs.
- Reach your chest forward and up, then press into your palms to continue lifting the chest and head.
- Straighten your arms and continue to press into the tops of your feet. If your hips stay on the ground, bend your elbows to accommodate.
- Draw your shoulders away from your ears. Keep your gaze forward.
- Hold for 3-5 breaths then release back to the ground or to downward facing dog.
- Cobra pose | Bhujangasana
- Bridge pose | Setu bandhasana
- High to mid plank | Chataranga dandasana
- Downward facing dog | Adho mukha svanasana
- Dancers pose | Natarajasana
- Upward facing bow pose | Urdhva dhanurasana
- Childs pose | Balasana
- Standing forward fold | Uttanasana
- Urdhva = upward
- Mukha = face
- Svana = dog
- Asana = pose
- Expands your chest and shoulders.
- Strengthens the musculature of your shoulder blades, hip flexors and core.
- Strengthens your lower back, arms and wrists.
- Relieves symptoms of mild depression.
- Energizes body and mind.
Virabhadrasana III: Warrior III Pose
ADJUSTMENTS | BENEFITS | SEQUENCING | SANSKRIT | STEPS
Warrior III, or virabhadrasana (veer-ah-bah-DRAHS-ah-nah) III, is a challenging pose of balance and strength.
Philosophy + Origin
A fierce warrior, Virabhadra is often depicted as having a thousand heads, eyes, and feet. Draped in the skin of a tiger, this warrior wields a thousand clubs. In Virabhadra’s origin story, he is created from a single dreadlock from Shiva’s head, a manifestation of the rage he feels upon feeling like his true love has died. The shape of virabhadrasana III comes from this story, the moment when Virabhadra beheads the king Daksha and extends forward to place the head on a stake.
Despite the outward appearance and violent origin, this powerful pose is actually a great reminder of our own inner strength and the measures we would take in the name of true love.