Urdhva Mukha Svasana (Upward Dog Pose) is one of the first backward extension yoga poses taught. It can be a difficult pose, even for more experienced yogis as the upper back needs to open, while the more flexible lower back needs to stay long and not over do its role in the pose.
Yoga props can be useful in making the key actions of the pose more accessible. The use of two yoga blocks can help with the learning “curve” in this pose!
Take a look at the following two pictures of Nuvana in Upward Facing Dog.
In the first picture she is doing the classic pose, without any yoga props. In the second picture she is using two yoga blocks under her hands. The pose without the blocks is a fine pose! But notice with the blocks:
• Her front thighs are longer
• Her sternum is more lifted and her chest has come forward of her arms
• Her shoulders are back and are over her wrists. Her shoulders are also down, away from her neck.
• Her back body is lengthening from the shoulders towards the heels
• Her neck is longer and her face is more relaxed
All of the above actions are essential to doing the pose without strain or pinching of the low back. With the blocks, the shape and actions of the poses can be learned, and once understood can be applied more readily to the pose without using the blocks. This is the idea of Iyengar Yoga – to learn correct actions in a place where the actions come more easily, so that when a more challenging pose is attempted the student can use what they have learned. The blocks can also help with wrist issues.
Thank you to Nuvana for posing for the photos and for suggesting the topic for this article.