Urdhva Muha Svanasana is a beautiful back bending pose that opens the heart and awakens the body. This pose also begins to waken the legs, feet, core, as well as helps to activate the bandhas. While working this pose in Surya Namaskara it is important to notice the placement of the hands and arms during Chaturanga as it will effect Urdva Muha Svanasana.
How to Practice
Mainly we come into Urdhva Muha Svanasana from Surya Namaskara or at least from a position of laying on our bellies on the earth.
Bring the hands just in front of the hips with the back of the palms snug up against them and under the shoulders. Inhale bringing your upper body to be perpendicular to the earth. Legs are straight back, extended, strong, and suspended as the weight is balanced on the tops of the feet. The inner thighs are spiraling up, and the toes have the sense of extending straight back.
Pelvis is pulling forward while the tailbone is pulling back. Watch the sensations during this pose as to not put too much undo pressure on the lower back or contract the butt as it will externally rotate the thighs.
When coming into the full expression, use the strength of the hands pushing into all points of the hands including the knuckles. Using this pressure point helps keep the balance of pressure and protects the wrists, as well as helps to open the heart center. Feel the shoulders open up; keeping the wrists directly under the shoulders to help lengthen the spine and keep the integrity of the chest.
Coming out of the pose depends on your own body. Many find it easier to roll the toes under and pull the pelvis up and back into Adho Mukha Svanasana.
If you find it difficult to come into or hold Urdhva Mukha Svanasana begin practicing Salabhasana B or low cobra. If needed take a break while in Chaturanga Dandasana, or come all the way to the earth to readjust your body for Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. You can also use fists for this pose to help the wrists, or keep the knees on the earth to help with the pressure on the lower back.
Be sure after practicing you take a few breaths in Adho Mukha Svanasana or a mild forward fold. Also do some counter work on your wrists, either with massage or with Padangusthasana and Padahastasana. Further in the sequence doing simple shoulder openers also can release some pressure. Some examples inlcude Prasarita Padottanasana C or Parsvottanasana.