“Up Dog,” also known as “Urdhva Mukha Svanasana,” is excellent for strengthening the wrists, arms and low back, as well as for stretching the chest, abs and shoulders. Be cautious about performing this pose if you suffer from injuries to your wrists or low back, or if you are pregnant.
Moving into the pose
1. Start out lying prone on the floor. Your legs should be stretched behind you and your arms lying at your sides.
2. Bring your hands flat on the floor beneath your shoulders and look forward. As you exhale, push yourself up with your hands so your elbows are straight. The only areas of your body that should be touching the mat are the tops of your feet and the palms of your hands.
3. Your gaze should be soft and forward.
Scan your body from head to toe
Keep only the tops of your feet and palms touching the ground; your thighs and glutes should be firm but not overly flexed; and shoulders are even with the top of your chest, not next to your ears. Make sure the inside of the elbows are facing forward, and push back with your hands so to keep your spine straight. Keep your chin level and be sure not to harden or compress your neck. Breathe fully and with intention in the posture for 15 to 30 seconds. When you are ready, exhale and lower yourself back to the ground with control.
Tip: If you are new to yoga, be sure to take it slow and to not overexert yourself. Get comfortable with the postures and then practice transitioning in and out of them.
Anthony DiTomaso is an NCBTMB-certified massage therapist, Yoga Alliance-certified instructor, anatomy and physiology instructor, as well as professional fitness model. He is also an experienced instructor in personal training, nutrition education, energetic healing and Five Element and traditional Chinese medicine theory. DiTomaso has taught introductory massage courses and continuing education seminars for massage therapists and yogis throughout the U.S. He is the owner of Empowerment Unlimited Body Works Inc. and offers the DVD Yoga For Massage Therapists (www.yogaformassagetherapists.com).