Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
(Upward Facing Dog Pose)
Urhdva Mukha means having the mouth upwards. Svana means a dog. The pose resembles a dog stretching itself with the head up in the air, hence the name.
From Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar
The pose rejuvenates the spine and is specially recommended for people suffering from a stiff back. The movement is good for persons with lumbago, sciatica and those suffering from slipped or prolapsed discs of the spine. The pose strengthens the spine and cures backaches. Due to the chest expansion, the lungs gain elasticity. The blood circulates properly in the pelvic region and keeps it healthy.
Lie on the floor on the stomach, face downwards.
Keep the feet about one foot apart. The toes should point straight back. Place the palms on the floor by the side of the waist, the fingers pointing to the head.
Inhale, raise the head and trunk, stretch the arms completely and push the head and trunk as far back as possible, without resting the knees on the floor.
Keep the legs straight and tightened at the knees, but do not rest the knees on the floor. The weight of the body rests on the palms and toes only.
The spine, thighs, and calves should be fully stretched, and the buttocks contracted tight. Push the chest forward, stretch the neck fully and throw the head as far back as possible. Stretch also the back portions of the arms.
Stay in the pose from half a minute to a minute with deep breathing.
Bend the elbows, release the stretch and rest on the floor.