How To Do Up Dog

By: Chris Freytag, CPT

Chloe Freytag demonstrating and Up Dog in a blue tank top and yoga pants


Up Dog, also known as “Upward Facing Dog”, is a pose that stretches the chest, abdominals and shoulders as well as strengthens the arms, upper back muscles and glutes. While many yoga poses focus on stretching muscles on the back side of the body, Up Dog focuses on balancing this out by stretching the muscles in the front. If you think you have poor posture, rounded shoulders, or weak upper back muscles, you should learn how to do Up Dog.

Our societal habits of walking hunched over a phone or sitting at a computer can leave us with poor posture and rounded shoulders. Up Dog opens up the muscles that are generally shortened and tightened by these activities leaving you with better posture. In addition, many activities we participate in strengthen the many muscles in our legs without letting the glute muscle fire and take hold. Up Dog requires you to squeeze your glutes and initiate the use of your rear end!

Before you take time to lean how to do Up Dog, take time to learn how to do Low Cobra pose. Low Cobra and Cobra both prepare the body for Up Dog. In fact, in most yoga practices the instructor will cue Low Cobra or Cobra several times before encouraging Up Dog. Once you find you Up Dog position, pull your shoulders back and down and relax your neck, looking slightly upward. In order to properly lift your legs off the mat be sure you tighten both your glute and quadriceps muscles. As you hold the Up Dog position, be sure to breathe fluidly in and out while continuing to squeeze your glutes as tightly as you can.

1) Begin lying face down on your mat with head slightly lifted and hand sitting directly under shoulders.

2) Point your toes so the tops of you feet are on the mat.

3) As you exhale, press through your hands and the tops of your feet raising your body and legs up off the ground until arms are straight.

4) Keep your neck relaxed and long and quads tight as you hold and breathe.

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