Uttana Shishosana: Extended Puppy Pose
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Keep your hips above your knees and slowly walk your hands forward.
- 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.
- 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.
- Stay for up to a minute. When you’re ready to exit the posture, shift your hips back into child’s pose.
- Downward facing dog | Adho mukha svanasana
- Cow pose
- Upward salute | Urdhva hastasana
- Sphinx pose | Salamba bhujangasana
- Floor bow | Dhanurasana
- Upward-facing dog | Urdhva mukha svanasana
- Uttana = intense, extended
- Shisho = puppy
- Asana = pose
- Opens the front of the chest.
- Stretches the muscles of the abdomen.
- Stimulates and strengthens back muscles.
- Activates the sacral (svadhisthana) and heart (anahata) chakras.
- Increases self-confidence and self-love.
- Opens the heart for more acceptance and love.
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.