Urdhva Mukha Swanasana or upward facing dog and Bhujangasana or low cobra, are both backward bending poses. While most yoga students and teachers alike think of these as the same pose, they are in fact quite different. Look carefully at the pictures below. Do you notice any differences between these two poses?
Urdhva Mukha Swanasana/Upward Facing Dog
- In Urdhvamukha swanasana or upward facing dog pose, the weight of the body rests on the hands and tops of the feet.
- The knees are off the mat.
- The chest is lifted, open and expansive
- The shoulders are stacked over the wrists
- This is a weight bearing, reasonably intense strength pose for the arms and legs if held for a while.
- As a yoga pose, in bhujangasana, the weight of the body is resting on the legs, pelvis and hands.
- In bhujangasana only the chest is lifted. This is done with the back muscles as opposed to the arms and legs in up dog
- The pelvis and pubis remain on the mat
Is Upward Dog or Cobra More Intense?
So look closely at the two pictures above. And let us know which one seems more intense to you?
Upward facing dog is easier than Bhujangasana as the latter needs back muscles strength. Which is harder to develop. In Upward facing dog, the legs and arms do most of the work in terms of holding the body weight. And additionally, we are further away from the pull of gravity. So it becomes an easier, more beginner friendly yoga pose.
Both poses work on keeping the spine healthy, open the chest, enhance breathing and massage the organs as well.