Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
When the heart “chakra” is in balance we find ourselves in a state of selfless love and compassion. Our pose of the month, upward facing dog, stimulates this energy channel known as the heart chakra. In addition to enhancing the urge to spread joy to others, your body will also enjoy the benefits of this chest opener. Counteracting many of the forward positions we we find ourselves during the day such driving or sitting at a desk (back to school?), back extensions put our abdominal organs back into a better functioning position while strengthening the spine and improving posture.
Lie belly-down on your yoga mat, Stretch your legs straight back with tops of the feet on the floor and place the palms on the mat by your short-ribs, fingers facing forward and spread wide.
Root down through the palms and inhale as you straighten the arms and lift the chest, pubic bone and thighs away from the floor. The weight of the body rests in the palms and tops of the feet.
As you continue to press through the palms, be cautious of hyper extending through the arms as elbows stay in towards side body.
Firm the shoulder blades down the back.
Press the tailbone toward the pubis and lift the pubis toward the navel. The chest is lifting as if you were pulling the heart through the gateway of the arms.
If you can avoid compression in the cervical spine then you may take gaze up towards the sky. Otherwise, keep gaze forward.
To modify or go deeper into the pose:
Modified Variation: Practice Cobra Pose as an alternative pose if Upward-Facing Dog is not yet available to you.
To Go Deeper: To increase the strength and lightness of this pose, push from the backs of your knees along the calves and out through the heels. The tops of your feet will press more firmly against the floor; as they do, lift the top sternum up and forward.
Cautions and Contraindications:
Those who are pregnant should be cautious when practicing this posture. Additionally, back/spinal injuries as well as carpal tunnel syndrome.