Anatomy of a Pose - Laurel Marsh

Laurel Marsh

Laurel Marsh

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog)


  • Stretches the chest, shoulders, abdomen, front of the hips, arms, wrists, and ankles
  • Strengthens the back, arms, and legs
  • Stimulates the abdominal organs
  • Helps relieve fatigue and stiffness in the back

Key Actions

  • Come onto the belly and extend the legs straight back
  • Place the hands by the lower ribs, palms down and fingers pointing forward
  • Look to make sure the elbows are directly over the wrists.  If they aren't then slide the hands forward or back as needed
  • Firm the elbows in toward the sides of the torso so they are directly behind the shoulders
  • Bring the feet hips-width distance apart
  • Relax the legs and notice how the inner thighs naturally roll up and out and the outer ankles sickle outward.  Accentuate the rolling upwards of the inner thighs, firm the outer ankles in
  • Press down onto the tops of the feet from the big toes to the pinky toes, feel the legs turn on and slightly lift
  • On the inhalation press down into the hands until the arms straighten and draw the chest forward and up
  • Vigorously press into the tops of the feet to lift the knees, thighs, and hips off the ground.  Be sure that only the hands and feet are on the ground
  • Engage the quadriceps to keep the legs lifted as the inner thighs continue to roll up and the outer ankles firm in
  • Make sure the shoulders are directly over the wrists, if they are not adjust them by moving the legs forward or back
  • Slightly draw the pubic bone up towards the sternum and continue to lift the chest forward and up
  • Draw the outer upper arms back and press down into the hands, especially at the base of each index finger
  • To release, either roll over the toes into Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) or firm the arms in towards the trunk as the elbows bend and the body lowers to the mat


  • If the upper arms and shoulders roll forward and it is difficult to draw the outer upper arms back, try slightly turning the hands out
  • If having the hands flat on the ground is very bothersome to the wrists, try using hexagon shaped barbells to keep the wrists straight
  • If Upward Facing Dog is too vigorous, take Baby Cobra.  Instead of straightening the arms, keep them bent and lift the shoulders to elbow height.  Practice the actions of Upward Facing Dog in the legs, shoulders, and chest while building strength in the back