Upward Dog

written by
Joel Runyon
last updated
June 24, 2021

The Upward Dog is a classic, fundamental yoga pose. However, you don’t need to be a yoga practitioner to experience its benefits. This pose will give key areas of your body an excellent stretch that everyone from athletes to long-distance runners can enjoy. And many who engage in strength training, especially exercises that strain the lower back, also find it to be a great way to wind down after a workout.

By using your arms to lift the majority of your torso off of the floor it will strengthen both the spine, arms, and wrists. Your lifted chest and the backwards bent angle of your lower back will help to improve your posture. The position will also stretch out the chest muscles, shoulders, and abdomen and may even help with sciatica pain. The Upward Dog also stretches out the front of the thighs and the hip flexor muscles which helps to decrease the risk of a pulled hamstring or quadricep.

But since it is such a fundamental and commonly used pose, it is important that your form is 100% on point. Some key mistakes are hunching your shoulders up into your neck, keeping your pelvis and thighs against the floor, and resting the weight of your legs on the points of your toes. Follow the directions below to make sure you’re getting the most out of this stretch.

How to perform an Upward Dog

upward dog movement demo

Find a comfortable area of floor or mat to lie on.

Lie face down on the ground with your legs completely extended, the tops of your toes pressed against the floor and your palms flat and on either side of your chest just beneath your shoulders.

Now look up towards the ceiling, and using your palms press against the floor to raise first your chest, pelvis, and thighs off of the mat.

Your weight should now be supported only on your hands and the tops of your toes. You should feel a good stretch in your lower back and some healthy muscle burn in your shoulders.

Hold this position for a good 20-30 seconds and slowly breathe in and out.

To return, gently relax your abdomen and lower yourself back down to lie with your chest flat on the floor again.

Upward Dog video demonstration

written by
Joel Runyon

Joel is the founder of IMPOSSIBLE and the founder of MoveWell. Joel founded MoveWell after sustaining an injury while running an ultra marathon on every continent. Joel is writes about mobility, pain management and health and wellness overall.

Stretches this movement is great for:

More movements to try:

Get Started