Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

Uncategorized Jun 10, 2020

The plurality of postures that are enshrined within some of the most common styles of Yoga, have one common denominator among them, Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (upward facing dog). Rarely taught as an end in itself, its all too common experience is anything but sustained. Most of the time students breeze through it on the way to some other pose. This common transience of the pose has left much of its mechanical contents relatively undiscovered, and therefore susceptible to some oversights that can actually become pathological over the course of time. 

Two of most common errors of Upward Dog surround the techniques that sentence the Lower back to stress and injury. The reciprocal muscle groups that control the tilt of the pelvis have to be reeducated concomitantly. This means that it is necessary to maintain muscular control in opposing sides of the body, back and front

 

Back:
Protection of the lower back stems from an appropriate use of the legs, mainly the butt muscle. Being that it is THE primary hip extension muscle, its mismanagement in the pose places all of the extension pressure on the lumbar spine. This is a part of the unnecessarily popular instruction to relax the butt in the pose. The crux of what defines functional movement is that it requires the participation of every other body part, in order to preserve its health. When placing the body in an extension (backbend), the glutes assist in pulling the pelvis into a posterior tilt, thereby reducing the compressive load that would ensue otherwise.

Front
The second half of the pelvic tilt mechanism is the abdominal muscle which connects the front of the rib cage to the lowest point of the pelvis. Its contraction in backbends assists in pulling the pelvis into a posterior tilt, thereby reinforcing the safety that the glutes are providing from the back.

The coupling of these two forces re-establishes a concert of movement that will help our practice and bodies, carry forward in a sustainable and safe manner. Some of these movement habits can take time to become proficient in. Sustained effort (abhyasa) is and patience (vairagya) will be great company on this journey.

Patience in allowing the insights to accrue in a natural and organic way will be an indispensable skill. 

 

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