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Picture of Extended Puppy Pose

 

Uttana Shishosana: Extended Puppy Pose


An intelligent pose to help lengthen the spine and relieve mental stress, Extended Puppy pose, or Uttana Shishosana (OO-tə-NAH she-SHO-sahna), is a hybrid pose — a cross between Balasana (Child’s pose) and Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog). An effective way to energize the physical and subtle bodies, Uttana Shishosana is great 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. And, instead of being in a hurry to get to the next posture, allow yourself to linger (and lengthen) in the feel-good sensations.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • Instead of looking forward with the forehead off the ground, place the forehead on the ground to relieve discomfort or straining in the neck.
  • Use a block under the forehead to alleviate discomfort in the neck.
  • To keep the knees and lower back safe and comfortable, try practicing the posture with a rolled blanket or bolster in between your calves and hamstrings.

CONTRAINDICATIONS AND CAUTIONS:

  • Serious shoulder, neck or lower back injuries
  • Knee injury

TIPS:

As you practice Uttana Shishosana, be sure to pay attention to the position of your knees and elbows. In the posture, keep the knees in line with the hips in order to avoid unnecessary and uncomfortable compression in the lower part of the back and sacrum. Additionally, it’s important to keep your elbows from extending out to the sides too far. This alignment can cause your shoulders to internally rotate, which can make the muscles of your neck and shoulders uncomfortable. Another alignment tip for Uttana Shishosana is to make sure that your front ribs don’t overly protrude. When they do, this can cause the same compression that occurs when the knees are too far apart.

STEP-BY-STEP:

  1. Start on your mat in Tabletop position on all fours. Check to be sure that your shoulders stack directly above your wrists and that your hips are positioned just above your knees. Begin to walk your hands forward slightly. Tuck your toes under.
  2. Use an exhalation to bring your glutes back so that they are directly above your knees. As you do, activate the muscles of your arms and press through the palms of the hands. Your elbows should remain elevated.
    Depending on your body and neck, either drop your forehead onto the mat, rest your forehead on a block, or bring your gaze forward so that your chin rests gently on the mat. Once in the posture, you should feel a slight natural curve in your low back.
  3. 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. You should feel the entire spine lengthen from top to bottom. Breathe easily and deeply for up to 60 seconds in the posture. When you’re ready to exit the posture, either release your glutes down into Balasana, Child’s Pose, or move back to Tabletop and into Downward Facing Dog.

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PREPARATORY POSES:

  • Adho Mukha Svanasana
  • Balasana
  • Virasana

FOLLOW-UP POSES:

  • Adho Mukha Svanasana
  • Balasana
  • Dhanurasana
  • Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
  • Salabhasana

SANSKRIT:

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

PHYSICAL BENEFITS:

  • Releases chronic muscular tension in upper arms, shoulders and neck
  • Opens the front of the chest and hips
  • Stretches the muscles of the abdomen and hamstrings
  • Stimulates and strengthens back muscles
  • Improves sleep and reduces effects of insomnia

ENERGETIC BENEFITS:

  • Activates the Sacral (Svadhisthana) and Heart (Anahata) chakras
  • Increases self-confidence and self-love
  • Boosts self-confidence
  • Opens the heart for more acceptance and love

MANTRA:

“Compassion Mantra”

A mantra designed to honor the bodhisattva of compassion, this special mantra is designed to open the heart in order to help it expand into love and let compassion flow. To practice, chant aloud the words “OM MANI PADME HUM”. This mantra is great to practice during meditation.

MUDRA: Padma Mudra

A symbol of a heart blossoming with love and acceptance, Padma, or Lotus mudra can be practiced by bringing the hands together at the heart in prayer position and then allowing the index, middle, and ring fingers to expand out while keeping the thumbs, pinky fingers, and heels of the hand touching. Keep the hands at the heart or lift them up over the crown of the head.

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