Uttana Shishosana: Extended Puppy Pose

Anahatasana-StephSchwartz

An intelligent pose to help lengthen the spine and relieve mental stress, uttana shishosana (OO-ta-NAH she-SHO-sahna), is a hybrid pose — a cross between balasana (child’s pose) and adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog). Uttana shishosana is a great way to energize the physical and subtle bodies for when you’re feeling fatigued, or when you’ve been stuck behind a desk or in a chair all day. Energetically, the posture has the benefits of increasing both self-confidence and self-love.

Philosophy + Origin

Uttana shishosana is a great reminder of why we practice yoga: to feel better and to find tools to help us live our best lives. Named because of the way dogs and puppies stretch, this posture, while far from fancy, is effective in its simplicity. As humans, it’s easy to want to complicate life, always looking to the past or future in order to find meaning.

Dogs, on the other hand, are great at being present. Loyal and playful, our canine companions have a lot to teach us about relaxing and taking care of ourselves and those we love. As you practice extended puppy pose, allow yourself to settle into your senses. Allow yourself to linger (and lengthen) in the feel-good sensations.

ADJUSTMENTS:

  • Neck adjustments: Place your forehead on the ground or use a block under the forehead to alleviate discomfort in the neck.
  • Blanket: For tender knees, place a blanket on the ground for added cushion.

STEP-BY-STEP:

  1. Start on your mat in tabletop pose. Stack your shoulders directly above your wrists and your hips just above your knees. Tuck your toes rather than pointing them.
  2. Keep your hips above your knees and slowly walk your hands forward.
  3. Depending on your body and neck, either rest your forehead onto the mat, on a block, or bring your gaze forward so that your chin rests gently on the mat.
  4. To deepen the stretch along your spine and through the chest and shoulders, press more firmly through the hands as you isometrically pull the hips back to create traction.
  5. Stay for up to a minute. When you’re ready to exit the posture, shift your hips back into child’s pose.

PREPARATORY POSES:

SEQUENTIAL POSES:

COUNTER POSES:

SANSKRIT:

  • Uttana = intense, extended
  • Shisho = puppy
  • Asana = pose

PHYSICAL BENEFITS:

  • Opens the front of the chest.
  • Stretches the muscles of the abdomen.
  • Stimulates and strengthens back muscles.

ENERGETIC BENEFITS:

  • Activates the sacral (svadhisthana) and heart (anahata) chakras.
  • Increases self-confidence and self-love.
  • Opens the heart for more acceptance and love.


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Natarajasana: Lord of the Dance Pose

ADJUSTMENTS    |     BENEFITS    |     SEQUENCING    |     SANSKRIT    |     STEPS

Natarajasana (not-ah-raj-AHS-anna) is a physically challenging, beautiful pose that requires flexibility in the spine, legs, and hips. To practice the pose,  use a thoughtful sequence filled with plenty of preparatory poses in order to make sure your body – and mind – are adequately prepared. Regular practice will help develop strong mental fortitude and determined concentration.

Philosophy + Origin

A physical embodiment of King Nataraja, a form of the lord Shiva, lord of the dance pose (also referred to as king dancer pose) is a tribute to this powerful god of destruction. Embracing destruction and even death as part of the cycle of change and growth, this pose is a helpful reminder that no good can exist without evil, no birth without death.

In most depictions of King Nataraja, he is standing on one leg (hence the shape of the pose), gazing over the head of a small dwarf, whose presence represents ignorance. In this way, lord of the dance pose encourages our consciousness to elevate above ignorance, above the common thoughts and misunderstandings that cloud our view. The balance that comes from the pose awakens our understanding that clarity brings steadiness.

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