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Posts Tagged ‘Upward Facing Dog’

Some Benefits Of Doing Back Bends

Posted by terrepruitt on April 24, 2014

In one of the sessions I taught for the City of San Jose at the Willow Glen Community Center I taught a progression of back bends over the course of the sessions.  We started with a very gentle standing back bend, Upward Salute.  Then in our next meeting our next step in the back bend lesson plan was a back bend on our bellies, it was a Locusts Pose.  With this one it can be a very gentle progression as it can be done in mini forward steps.  It is an easy pose to modify.  It can be broken down into three separate components all which can be modified.  Then we moved onto the Sphinx Pose, which is more of a bend.  Then the next pose we moved on to was the Cobra Pose.  This is a bigger back bend and while it can be modified it is not as obvious in its modifications as the Locusts Pose.  The last one we did in the series was Upward Facing Dog, which is a hanging pose which allows for a big bend in the back.  In my posts regarding each pose I talked about how to do them, but I didn’t really explain the benefits of them.

Here are some of the benefits of each pose:


Upward Salute
(Urdhva Hastasana)

Good for relief from symptoms of:
Fatigue, asthma, congestion, indigestion.  Also, like all of the back bends, it helps relieve back ache.
It helps Improves digestion, relieve mild anxiety and create space in the chest and lungs.


Locust Pose
(Salabhasana)

Is an invigorating pose so it can help alleviate fatigue.  It also helps with relieving flatulence and constipation.  It can assist in relieving indigestion.

Sphinx Pose  (Salamba Bhujangasana)

Helps calms nerves and relieve fatigue and stimulates abdominal organs. It also helps relieve stress.

Some say Traditional texts say that Bhujangasana increases body heat, destroys disease, and awakens kundalini.  (According to the Yoga Journal’s website.)

Cobra (Bhujangasana)

This pose also helps relieve stress.

Soothes sciatica along with the same as the sphinx (some believe that Bhujangasana increases body heat, destroys disease, and awakens kundalini.)

Upward dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

Is similar to the other back bends as it stimulates abdominal organs, and helps relieve fatigue and sciatica. It is also therapeutic for asthma. It also helps with mild depression.

 

Many yoga poses separately boast stress relief.  I believe, however that yoga in general helps relieve stress.  I understand though that some poses target stress specifically.  All the back bends open up the chest and bend the back so ailments associated with those areas are often made better by doing back bends.  The benefits stated here are benefits that can be found after engaging in a yoga practice and doing the poses properly.  This page is not to be used to diagnose or treat any issue you may be having.  Please make sure you are seeing a medical professional for your serious health issues.

In addition to know how to do the pose, I always think it is nice to know how poses can help you.  Back bends are a good way to reduce stress.  Please take caution in doing them.

Do you include back bends in your practice?

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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?

Some Benefits Of Doing Back Bends

Posted in Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Regal Pose

Posted by terrepruitt on October 31, 2013

Sometimes in Nia we do yoga poses, I have yet to do the sphinx in a Nia class, but I do include it in the Gentle Yoga class I am teaching.  I think of it as a nice gently backbend.  I think of it as a regal pose.  I think of it as a spine lengthener and a back strengthener.  I like the Sphinx Pose.

Although, according to Wiki, the Sphinx is not nice:

“A sphinx is a mythical creature with, as a minimum, the body of a lion and a human head.  In Greek tradition, it has the haunches of a lion, the wings of a great bird, and the face of a woman. She is mythicised as treacherous and merciless. Those who cannot answer her riddle suffer a fate typical in such mythological stories . . . ”

Ha, I think I will stick with the idea of regal.

The Sphinx Pose is another prone pose, where you are lying on your belly.  Your legs are together, touching, and straight out behind your body.  Start face down, with your arms stretched out on the ground above you, as if you are reaching above your head.  Before bending back, gently press your pelvis towards the earth, lengthening your tailbone towards your feet.  As you lift your head and chest up off the ground, bring your arms back.  Stop when your elbows are directly underneath your shoulders.  Or you can bring your hands up by your ears and gently push up into the backbend.  Adjusting your hands so that your elbows are directly under your shoulders.  You are resting on your elbows and forearms, palms down, fingers together.

Continue to keep your legs together, while your toes are reaching toward the opposite wall/direction.  Your back is active, while your arms are supportive.  Reach with your chest somewhat upward and open.  Your shoulders are back and your shoulder blades are pressing gently toward the earth.

Your gaze is forward and your posture is regal.  You are strong and confident.  Breathe into the pose.  Hands, arms, neck, back, and legs are all active yet not tightly clenched.

Stay for a few breaths or as long as your practice dictates.  Release and lower to the floor, allowing your head to turn to the side.  Rest your head on your hands and repeat as desired.

This is a nice gently backbend that can be the next backbend after learning the locust pose, if your practice is one in which you are progressing from a small backbend to a “bigger” backbend.  These (the Locust Post and the Sphinx Pose) can be preludes to the Cobra and the Upward Facing Dog.  Of course, this is a great pose to practice even if you are already doing the other backbends.

This pose is great to help strengthen the muscles in the back.

If necessary a rolled towel can be placed under your pubic bone in the shape of a U to provide cushion.  The U would be “hugging the belly”.

Do you have backbends in your practice?  Is sphinx one that you do?  What backbends do you practice?

Some Benefits Of Doing Back Bends

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