Flexibility

Asana 101: Upward Facing Dog Versus Cobra

Extended Mountain Pose, Forward Fold, Half Lift, Plank, Chaturanga— Inhale for Your Backbend?

If you have ever been in a yoga class you have most likely heard the above poses called at a pace that assumes you know where you are going and what to do when you get there.

WHAT IS A BACKBEND?

Backbends can be one of the most visually appealing poses, but they also encourage spinal extension, core strengthening and heart opening.

TIPS FOR BACKBENDING

  • Focus on extending through the spine as a opposed to deep bending.

  • Draw the shoulders down, back and away from the ears.

  • Engage through the core to support the low back.

  • Gaze forward or gently upward keeping length in the neck.

COBRA POSE - BHUJANGASANA (boo-jang-GAHS-anna)

Cobra pose is the most accessible option. We suggest you start here to build strength and practice the subtle engagements.

COBRA POSE.png
  • Come to the belly, extending the legs long. Place the hands under the shoulders.

  • Press the tops of the feet, thighs and pubis into the floor.

  • On an inhale, press through the hands to straighten the arms. Press only as high as you can keep the lower body connected to the floor. Hug the elbows into the body. Relax through the shoulders drawing them away from the ears.

  • Draw the belly button into the spine to keep low back supported.

  • Draw the sternum forward and gaze ahead.

  • Hold for 8-10 breathes.

UPWARD-FACING DOG POSE - URDHVA MUKHA SVANASNA

(OORD-vah MOO-kah shvon-AHS-anna)

UPWARD FACING DOG.png

Once you have built strength in the arms, legs and belly you may want to try Upward-Facing Dog. The primary difference between Cobra and Upward-Facing Dog is the complete lifting of the lower body from the mat and straightened arms.

  • Come to the belly, extending the legs long. Place the hands beside the waist (elbows bent).

  • Press your hands firmly into the floor and slightly back. Then straighten your arms and pressing through the tops of the feet lift your lower body off the floor. Engage through the legs and turn the inner thighs toward the ceiling, the arms firm and turned out so the elbow creases face forward.

  • Draw the belly button into the spine to keep low back supported.

  • Draw the sternum forward and gaze ahead.

  • Hold for 8-10 breathes.

Yoga Myth: I'm Not Flexible Enough

Yoga Myth: I'm Not Flexible Enough

“I can’t even touch my toes!” “I would never be able to do that!” “I’m not a contortionist!” “Don’t you have to be flexible?”

Yoga teachers would be very wealthy if we had a nickel for every time we someone said one of these things to us. Maybe you have even heard them from a friend? Or maybe you yourself have thought one or more of these statements to be true.