Cobra vs. Upward Dog: What’s the Difference?

In our last post we referenced two common backbends in a Vinyasa practice: cobra and upward-facing dog. Often teachers will allow students to pick which one feels right to them, but what are the differences, really?

Our friend and guest workshop teacher, Paisley, posted an excellent tutorial on her blog, check it out!

Paisley Anne

These postures are constant in the classroom, yet how and why we practice them can vary dramatically. Some teachers only teach one pose or the other, while other teachers give students the option to do whichever pose they choose.

Bhujangasana (Cobra) and Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog) have similar effects, but they feel very different. Both are recommended to cure a stiff back and to strengthen the spine. Both open the chest, make the lungs more elastic and breathing easier. Both can remedy marginally slipped discs. So how are they different?

Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana

In Up Dog the only points of your body on the ground are your hands and the tops of your feet. Everything else you hold up with your own effort.

The pose is done with straight arms which requires the kind of strength you need in arm balances, like handstand. Though it feels strenuous to some, it keeps you from cheating…

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