Share Pin Email
feature image
Live Fit

Your Body in Upward-Facing Dog

Yoga anatomy expert Leslie Kaminoff explains what happens in your body when you properly perform this backbending posture.

16 7833
Author Image
Yoga Anatomy Expert
SHARE:

Upward-facing dog pose is a backbending arm support in which it is important to create evenly distributed extension throughout your whole spine. To accomplish this, the thoracic region needs encouragement to bend backwards, while the more mobile lumbar and cervical regions need to be stabilized. This translates into active shortening (concentric) work in the extensors in your thoracic spine and active lengthening (eccentric) work for the flexors in your cervical and lumbar spine.

As in many poses where your arms are active, the latissimus dorsi are not so helpful, because they can fix the scapulae on the rib cage and inhibit extension in the thoracic spine. They also produce internal rotation of the upper arm (humerus) and downward rotation of the shoulder blades (scapulae), both of which oppose the actions of upward-facing dog.


Throughout your spine, the extensors are active, though mostly in the thoracic region. Gravity creates much of the extension in the lumbar spine all on its own, so your abdominals (and maybe your psoas minor) are actively lengthening (eccentrically) to resist too much arching in the lumbar spine (lordosis). In your cervical spine, gravity, acting on the weight of the head, creates extension, so the anterior neck muscles work eccentrically to keep the action balanced. In some variations of this pose, a chin lock is maintained, which makes the thoracic extension that much more powerful, and asks the back of the neck to lengthen as the chin is tucked down towards the top of the sternum.

As the counterpose to the more “exhaled” nature of downward-facing dog, this pose is clearly related to the expansive action of inhaling. Many who practice Ashtanga-based sequencing mostly hold this pose for only half a breath, as they move through it between stick pose and downward-facing dog. By holding it for several breaths, you can allow the action of the inhale to deepen the opening in the front of the ribcage, whereas the exhaling action can assist you in stabilizing the lumbar and cervical curves.

This article has been adapted from Leslie Kaminoff’s book Yoga Anatomy, an illustrated guide to the underlying structures and principles of the movements in yoga. Learn more at yogaanatomy.net

By

SHARE:

Comments (16)

U.S. TOUR 2019

PARAMAGURU
SHARATH JOIS

Don’t miss your chance to attend class with the Ashtanga yoga master when he visits the U.S. Spring 2019!

Registration Now Open

Load More

Find us on Instagram

@LIVESONIMA
  • Taking a quiet, peaceful moment on the San Francisco Bay. 
Paramaguru Sharath Jois is ready to welcome you Stanford tomorrow morning.
🙏🏽 If you haven’t signed up yet, there is still time! 
Follow the link in our bio and come practice with Sharathji. 💗🧘🏽‍♀️🧘🏼‍♂️ .
Stanford, April 22-27
Miami, May 1-7
Brooklyn, May 10-14 .
.
@joisyogaencinitas @miamilifecenter @eddiestern @sharathjoisr @stanfordashtangayoga .
.
#sharathjoisusa2019
#sharathjois #guruji #ParamaguruSharathJois
#sharathtour2019 #ashtangayoga #ashtangapractice #joisyoga #joisyogaencinitas #brooklynyogaclub #ashtangayoganewyork #ashtanganyc #ashtangayogastanford #sonima #livesonima #miamilifecenter #miamiashtanga
#ashtangafamily #PrimarySeries #IntermediateSeries #practiceisprayer #ashtangacommunity #sharathjoisageless 
#ashtangafamily #alliscoming
  • Wishing everyone a very restful, restorative and joyful Easter. 💐 Easter a symbol of hope, renewal, and life! 
Enjoy today and celebrate love, friends, family, and new beginnings! .
.
.
.
#eastereggs #happyeaster #newbeginnings❤️ #yogalifestyle #yogaliving #positivenergy #positivelifestyle #positivemindpositivelife #mindfulliving #livewell #livefree #livefit #sonima #livesonima #healthylivingrevolution #healthierchoices  #balancedlife #createbalance #createhealthyhabits #brainhealth #mindbodyconnection
  • The Boss has arrived! 
We are so excited to be hosting Sharathji in California once again! 
Classes begin Easter Monday 🐣 
Register now and join him on tour, our bio link has all the details. .

April 22-27, Stanford, CA
May 1-7, Miami, FL
May 10-14, Brooklyn, NY
.

We look forward to seeing you there! 💐
.
.
.
.
@joisyogaencinitas @miamilifecenter @eddiestern @sharathjoisr @stanfordashtangayoga
.
.
.
#sharathjoisusa2019
#sharathjois #guruji #ParamaguruSharathJois
#sharathtour2019 #ashtangayoga #ashtangapractice #joisyoga #joisyogaencinitas #brooklynyogaclub #ashtangayoganewyork #ashtanganyc #ashtangayogastanford #sonima #livesonima #miamilifecenter #miamiashtanga
#ashtangafamily #PrimarySeries #IntermediateSeries #practiceisprayer #ashtangacommunity #sharathjoisageless 
#ashtangafamily #alliscoming
  • “Ashtanga Yoga is a method to understand your inner self. Through the eight limbs, we can rid ourselves of lust, anger, attachment, greed, jealousy and pride... Yoga liberates us from these poisons within ourselves. The purification happens in the body as well as the mind.”
- Sharath Jois - 
Read the full article linked in our bio. 🙏🏽 Registration is still open to come and practice with Paramaguru Sharath Jois during his U.S. tour, April 22-May 14. 
We look forward to seeing you there! 🙏🏽♥️
.
.
.
.
.
#sharathjoisusa2019
#sharathjois #guruji #ParamaguruSharathJois
#sharathtour2019 #ashtangayoga #ashtangapractice #joisyoga #joisyogaencinitas #brooklynyogaclub #ashtangayoganewyork #ashtanganyc #ashtangayogastanford #sonima #livesonima #miamilifecenter #miamiashtanga
#ashtangafamily #PrimarySeries #IntermediateSeries #practiceisprayer #ashtangacommunity #sharathjoisageless 
#ashtangafamily #alliscoming
  • Words have the power to shape our reality. Repeating simple phrases can interrupt negative self-talk and alter how you feel about yourself. .

Give this mantra a try today! 💗
.
.
.
.
#tuesdaymotivation #tranformationtuesday #tuesdaythoughts #tuesdaytips #dailymantra #strongandbeautiful #changeyourlifetoday #changeyourthoughts #mindfulliving #livewell #livefree #livefit #sonima #livesonima #healthylivingrevolution #healthierchoices  #balancedlife #createbalance #createhealthyhabits #brainhealth #mindbodyconnection #yogalifestyle #yogaliving #positivenergy #positivelifestyle #positivemindpositivelife  #morningmantra #todaysquote
  • “Beauty comes with transformation. 
It happens deep inside you. 
It effects how you think, how you act, and how you integrate yoga into your life. 
If you allow the transformation to happen within, then the Realization occurs.” - Sharath Jois - .

In one week Sharathji will begin his U.S. Tour in Stanford, April 22-27. 
Practice with him in Miami, May 1-7
Or join the culmination of the tour in Brooklyn, May 10-14.
.

Register in advance to save your place! 🙏🏽 Follow the link in our bio for more details.
.
.
.
@joisyogaencinitas @miamilifecenter @eddiestern @sharathjoisr @stanfordashtangayoga @kinoyoga @harmonyslateryoga @timfeldmannyoga @russell_altice_case @andrew.hillam .
.
.
#sharathjoisusa2019
#sharathjois #guruji #ParamaguruSharathJois
#sharathtour2019 #ashtangayoga #ashtangapractice #joisyoga #joisyogaencinitas #brooklynyogaclub #ashtangayoganewyork #ashtanganyc #ashtangayogastanford #sonima #livesonima #miamilifecenter #miamiashtanga
#ashtangafamily #PrimarySeries #IntermediateSeries #practiceisprayer #ashtangacommunity #sharathjoisageless 
#ashtangafamily #alliscoming
Receive fresh content delivered to your inbox every week!