Hanging In Up Dog
Posted by terrepruitt on December 17, 2013
As I was saying in my recent post, Bend Like The Snake, Upward Facing Dog or Up Dog and Cobra are sometimes called the same thing or thought of as interchangeable. But they are not the same pose. Cobra usually does not have the straightened arms, but it can and that might be the source of confusion. They are similar, but not the same thing. To me, Cobra is more of an “energy from the back” type of pose, where Upward Facing Dog is more of an “energy from the arms”.
For Up Dog, you lie on your stomach. Your legs are stretched out behind you. The tops of your feet are on the earth. Place your hands, palms on the earth, at your arm pits – your starting position will probably adjust as you become more flexible and can straighten your arms. You want to start with your hands in a position on the floor so that when you push up and straighten your arms your hands end up directly under your shoulders. When you are ready you push up with your arms. Your legs remain together. As you straighten your arms you continue to keep your shoulders down, the blades back. The neck is lengthening. Keep the space open between your shoulders and your ears. No scrunching or hunching. When you arrive at a place that is comfortable your body hangs. Even if your arms are not all the way straightened the body hangs. If you are able to straighten your arms your gaze brings your chin parallel to the ground. If you arms are not all the way straight your gaze could be at the ground. This is a pose that is best worked into. Start with back bends that are not as large . . . like the Sphinx.
The “hang” of Up Dog is what really makes the poses different for me. The Upward Dog IS a backbend, but the energy is coming from the arms. Whereas in the Cobra the MAIN energy is located in the back. The arms are still working, but it is the back where the main energy resides. The Up Dog is a nice hang.
One thing that really helped me with discovering the difference is this video by Yoga Garden. I really love how this video explains the difference between Cobra and Upward Facing Dog. Yet, as I have said, many times, about all things, you might find conflicting information. You have to find what works for you. The thing I think that is most important to remember about Yoga and its poses is the benefit you and your body receive from it. While it is GREAT to know the names and to be able to move into that position, sometimes it all might not match up perfectly. But the strength and flexibility you gain is what will be the most important.
So does all of this information help you identify the differences between the Cobra yoga pose and the Upward Facing Dog pose?