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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Phalakasana: Plank Pose

ADJUSTMENTS    |     BENEFITS    |     SEQUENCING    |     SANSKRIT    |     STEPS

Phalakasana (fall-ack-AHS-anna), is an essential posture for a strong yoga practice. Holding plank pose will improve your endurance and muscle tone, help develop the strength needed for more complex poses, and generate heat and stimulating the navel chakra.

Philosophy + Origin

Hidden in the pose’s name is the Sanskrit word “phala,” which means to bear fruit or ripen. In yoga, the idea of tapas, often translated as “heat,” “passion,” or “discipline,” fuels the physical asana practice, encouraging students to seek out the challenge again and again in order to become stronger, to build an internal flame in the body that fuels every aspect of life. When you think of plank pose as an opportunity to “ripen” or “bear fruit,” you become aware of the transformative effect of this seemingly simple (although challenging) pose. Each time you enter the pose, use the breath to ripen the fruit of your labors. The ability to hold this pose with steadiness and grace is known to create major shifts in your practice and your life.

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