Upward Facing Dog - Urdvha Mukha Svanasa
The short and simple explanation:

Begin in Chataranga Dandasana

On an inhalation, roll onto the tops of the feet (this allows the hips to come closer towards the hands.)

The only part of the body touching the floor at this point is your knees and hands.

Keep the arms and the legs strong so the body doesn’t sag and pinching in the lower back.

Roll the shoulders away from the ears and rotate the elbows in towards the chest.

Exhale, flow into downward facing dog
Quentin and Wade from the Shanti Yoga Centre
demonstrate upward dog

Common Problems:
Be aware of any crunching sensations in the lower back. This is a common feeling beginners have in this pose and, in case you are wondering, that pinching of the lumbar disks it is not supposed to be there. The main thing to realize is the you are trying to spread the load over the entire front of thebody from the tops of the feet through the thighs, the abs, the chest and the neck. If

the front body is connected and strong, the lower back will not act like a hinge and there will be no feeling of pain, but only of sweet release!

The pinching is a result of a few different things. For one, some people do not keep the front of the legs strong and keep the knees on the floor while lifting the torso. This will definitely create a pinch in the back.

Also, some people collapse in the arms and do not roll the shoulders backwards which jams the lower back as well. To prevent this again roll the elbows inwards and the shoulders down and away from the ears.
Cheryl Pinto in Urdvha Mukha Savanasana
photo from
Power Yoga with Eoin Finn
Detailed Explanation:
Begin this pose in Chataranga Dandasana lLike the bottom of a push up, holding the body one inch from the floor). The hands are under the shoulders with the fingers spread wide and the elbows hugging the ribs. The toe mounds are on the floor and the inner thighs are strong.
From this position, roll onto the tops of the feet so the hips come close to the hands. The knees are up off the floor. Allow the legs to be strong and the thighs to roll slightly inwards so that there is a connection from the feet to the pelvis. Strong legs also distribute the load over the entire front of the body.

It is especially important to understand the elbows roll inwards towards the ribs. Meaning the left arm rotates counterclockwise and the right arm rotates clockwise. The hands stay planted with the fingers spread wide and the middle finger pointing forward. By rotating the arms like this you will engage more muscles in the arms so the body does not feel so heavy.

The tendency for beginners is to let the elbows bow out to the side. This is a very inefficient way to support one’s body. If you feel like your arms always want to collapse under your body weight, you need to work the arms more in this way. Remember also that the strong legs help absorb the body weight too.

Another common problem is for the s the elbows roll inwards, there is a simultaneous movement of the shoulders to "bunch up" towards the ears. This unpleasant tendency closes off the chest and creates tension on the back of the neck. Remember the idea of upward dog is to open up the front of the body. Be sure to roll to shoulders away from the ears in a way that brings the shoulder blades closer together and opens the chest up.

Video Clips in Mid April.