Uttana Shishosana

Common Title Uttana Shishosana
English Title Puppy Dog Pose
Sanskrit Title Uttana Shishosana
All Titles Puppy Dog Pose, Uttana Shishosana, Anahatasana, Half Dog Pose, Melting Heart Pose
Pose Level Beginner
Pose Position Prone
Pose Type Stretch, Forward-Bend, Inversion
Sanskrit Pronunciation Play Audio
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Yoga Sequences

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Uttana means intense and Shish means Puppy in Sanskrit. As the name suggests, this pose would resemble a puppy taking an intense stretch forward with it’s entire body. Though in this pose, the stretch is intense with the body on all fours, yet the body feels relaxed and is considered a posture to relax the muscles after an intense practice of other poses related to the shoulders and the back. The arms, shoulders, and chest get the maximum stretch, while the spine is beautifully extended both upwards and downwards at the same time. This pose is mostly considered as a follow up pose, to relax the muscles and hence can be done any number of times during the yoga session.

How to do Uttana Shishosana

The below cues and yoga sequences added by yoga teachers show multiple ways to do Uttana Shishosana depending on the focus of your yoga sequence and the ability of your students.

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  1. When you're ready, lift your hips and align them over knees Walk your hands forward Melt your chest to mat with your head on your mat ...
  2. 1. Lift your hips and align them over knees 2. Walk hands forward 3. Melt chest to mat ...
  3. Walk hands forward as far away as possible pressing palms into the mat. Forehead or chin to the mat, elbows lifted. Breath into the back creating leng... ...
  4. Well will move into the fire element Begin on your hands and knees And walk your hands forward Allowing your chest to drop towards the floor Keep ... ...
  5. Come to all fours (Tabletop position) with your shoulders stacked over your wrists, your hips stacked over your knees, and the tops of your feet relax... ...
  6. To Chaturanga to child pose (biceps graze clothes) and hold half way down to child ...
  7. Inhale, walk your hands forward. Exhale to melt your chest in extended child's pose. ...
  8. Step the hands forward stretching the arms out completely Bring the forearms to rest on the floor in front of you, while the hips and the knees remai... ...
  9. A. From the Reverse Corpse Pose, place the palms on the floor close to your chest and bring the forehead on the floor. B. Inhale and as you exhale ... ...
  10. Step the hands forward stretching the arms out completely Bring the forearms to rest on the floor in front of you, while the hips and the knees remai... ...
  11. Bring hands under shoulders, INHALE press into the palms, engage core, lift the hips up and back, aligning the hips over the knees (at 90 degree angle... ...
  12. from table top walk your hands out in front of you until chest starts to melt towards the mat -keep hips centered -place forehead or chin on mat -p... ...
  13. 1- Walk your hands forward a few inches 2- As you exhale, move your buttocks halfway back toward your heels. Keep your arms active; don't let your el... ...
  14. "With your right arm extended, bend your left elbow and place your left hand on top of your right arm just above the elbow. Rest your forehead on your... ...

Discover more cues, teaching ideas, and how to do steps at How to Do Uttana Shishosana

Uttana Shishosana Benefits

Uttana Shishosana Benefits:

Most of the benefits derived while practicing this pose is considered similar to those derived from the practice of Prasarita Balasana or the Wide Child’s pose. Given below are some of the benefits covered.

  • Stretches the hips and the hamstrings: While the lower body or the lower back is extended upwards, taking the tail bone deep pointing upwards in Uttana Shishosana, the hips tighten up, along with the thighs. This stretch while the muscles are tight works to the advantage of these muscles and also makes them strong and give a great support to the body.
  • Maximum stretch to the entire spine: Notice how the lower part of the spine goes upwards and the upper part of the spine goes downwards at the same time. While both ends of the spine gets its maximum stretch, and extending the middle part of the spine both ways too, the body too simultaneously extents both ways at the same time. This extension gives the body and the spine the maximum stretch, thus also relaxing it.
  • Flexes the spine with the stretch: While the spine and the muscles around the spine stretches in this pose, Extended Puppy Dog Pose, the flexibility of the spine and the muscles too improve. The flexing of the spine acts as a great way to improve the posture of the entire body and also improves the flow of prana while practicing any pose.
  • Acts like a restorative pose: This pose can be considered as a restorative pose, healing the hips and the entire back. Can be considered...
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Uttana Shishosana Contraindications

 (Puppy Dog Pose) Uttana Shishosana Contraindications:

A simple few things to keep in mind while going into this pose, though this pose is easy.

  • Not to be done when injured at the knee and the hip. Pressure at the knees may not be comfortable while practicing this pose.
  • Not to be done if having extremely stiff shoulders and arms. As this pose opens the shoulders, too much stiffness may make it difficult to enjoy the pose.
  • If suffering from severe lower back pain, it is better to take guidance, as while releasing from the pose the body has to go gently backwards and downwards. While doing this in a hurry with a severe back pain, the wrong way, can cause more stiffness to the lower back.
  • Not to be done at the later stages of pregnancy, as the blood flows in the opposite direction if held for a longer duration.

Uttana Shishosana Variations

Uttana Shishosana Variations: Below are some common variations of the yoga pose Uttana Shishosana with base pose as Puppy Dog Pose (Uttana Shishosana).

Uttana Shishosana Steps

 (Puppy Dog Pose) Uttana Shishosana Steps:

Uttana Shishosana or the Extended Puppy Dog Pose can be done in two ways, which are explained below.

Uttana Shishosana from Adho Mukha Svanasana

This practice will be done a little dynamic, working on strengthening the shoulders and the arms while the lower back is completely relaxed.

  1. Begin standing in Tadasana and with feet close to each other, join the palms in front of you at the chest and take a few breaths here, extending the spine and throwing the chest out and shoulders behind. Follow the breath as the body expands and contracts with eyes closed and slowly begin to relax the mind.
  2. Take a deep breath and stretch the arms out above you and as you exhale expand the upper torso and bring it in a forward bend and go into Uttanasana, exhaling completely, bringing the head close to your knees and placing the palms on the floor besides your feet. Take a few breaths here and relax the spine while the entire lower body is tight.
  3. Now, from Uttanasana, take the palms and place them away from your feet at a comfortable distance in front of you. Ensure they are placed shoulder distance apart.
  4. Once the palms are placed comfortable on the floor with proper alignment, push the head and the face deep inside with every exhalation, trying to touch the floor if possible with the crown of the head.
  5. Stretching the shoulders downwards, press the palms and the feet firm to the floor feeling the stretch at the calves, the arms, the shoulders and the middle and upper back. Here in this pose, Adho Mukha Svanasana, the entire body resembles the stretching of the dog with its entire body and hence also called the Downward Facing Dog pose.
  6. Remain in Adho Mukha Svanasana for a few breaths, say 6 breaths, and feel the stretch at the neck and the shoulders while exhaling.
  7. Now, slowly exhale bend the knees and place them on the floor, just below the hips, while the palms remain firm on the floor.
  8. Inhale again and as you exhale, slowly bring the chest close to the floor moving the shoulder and the upper arms deep downwards, without moving the palms. With complete exhalation, bring the chest and the face to rest on the floor.
  9. The pushing of the chest towards the floor, will make the lower part of the back and the entire hips to move upwards, giving the posture of Uttana Shishosana or the Extended Puppy Dog Pose.
  10. Stay here for a few breaths, pushing the arms closer to the floor with every exhalation, and reaching for the floor with the upper part of the chest.
  11. The wonderful movement of the entire shoulders and the arms from Adho Mukha Svanasana to Uttana Shishosana and back to Adho Mukha Svanasana, works wonders with the shoulders and the arms stretching the muscles and making them strong and flexible.
  12. Repeat this four times ensuring to hold in each pose for about 6 to 8 breaths and slowly release and take the body to Uttanasana and then Tadasana.
  13. Relax completely in Tadasana and bring the chest out and placing the feet together, relax the entire spine with slow breathing.

Uttana Shishosana from Cat Cow Pose

Another variation to go into the Extended Puppy Dog Pose is from the Cat Cow Pose, which again uses the shoulders and arms muscle strength.

  1. Seated on your shin and knees, placing the buttocks on the heels, place the palms in front of you and go into Brahman Asana or Table Top Pose. Come on all four, placing the shoulder just above your palms and the hips just above your knees. Remain here for a few breaths ensuring the entire back is parallel to the floor.
  2. Inhale raise the head up and bring the chest out, curving the middle back and throwing the tailbone outwards. Position ‘A’ in Cat Cow Pose.
  3. Exhale bring the head locked inside close to the chest, making a curve outwards with the upper back, like that of a camel and pull the tummy in. Position ‘B’ in Cat Cow Pose. Repeat this process of breathing along with the movement of the entire back, in Bitilasana Marjaryasana or Cat Cow Pose. This posture is a nice opening to the back and also strengthens the arms and shoulders.
  4. From ‘A’ position of Cat Cow Pose, slowly move the fingers forward stretching the arms out completely and bring the entire forearms to rest on the floor in front of you, while the hips and the knees remain firm.
  5. As you exhale, rest the forehead on the floor, raising the lower back upwards feeling the stretch at the shoulders and arms.
  6. Rest the face on the floor and remain here for about 6 breaths and with every exhalation take the chest close to the floor pushing the arms and the shoulders, and pushing the tailbone upwards.
  7. Once comfortable, take this pose a little deeper and with inhalation, raise the face off the floor and place the chin on the floor gazing in front of you and exhale completely. This posture will bring maximum stretch to the armpits and the shoulders.
  8. Remain here if comfortable, pushing the chest deeper down, while the tailbone moves upwards. Stay for about 8 breaths or more focusing on the chest and the shoulders. Here in this pose, Uttana Shishosana or Extended Puppy Dog Pose, the heart opens beautifully giving room for deeper breathing with the expansion of the lungs.
  9. To release from the pose, as you exhale slowly walk the palms backwards, releasing the arms and the shoulders and move backward with the torso and come back to Cat Cow Pose.
  10. Remain in Cat Cow Pose and follow few rounds with inhalation and exhalation, moving from position ‘A’ to position ‘B’.
  11. Release and go down again to Extended Puppy Dog Pose, and remain here for about 8 breaths.
  12. Slowly release and come back to sit at Vajrasana relaxing the shoulders and the arms, placing the palms on the thighs in front of you.

Points to keep in mind while at the posture of Uttana Shishosana

Few key points to keep in mind with the alignment to gain maximum benefit from this pose are

  • Tops of feet on the ground
  • Feet in line with knees
  • Knees, just about hip distance apart
  • Hips directly over the knees
  • Armpits long and stretch down to the ground
  • Arms stretched and inner elbows turned facing each other
  • Inner palms pressed firm on the floor with fingers to facing down and touching the floor/mat
  • Forehead and nose touching the floor for beginners, else just chin touching the floor if at the intermediate or advance level.
  • Chest pressing downwards to touch the floor if at the advance level, pushing the middle back lower to the floor.
  • Spine long and stretched forming a great slope with the entire back.

Uttana Shishosana Modifications

 (Puppy Dog Pose) Uttana Shishosana Modifications:

To make this pose a little more comfortable for beginners, a few tips to keep in mind while practicing this pose are given below.

  • If one wants to consider this pose as a restorative pose, then having extra blankets at the knee and the chest will relax the entire body better.
  • One could practice this pose on the bed, if one finds the shoulders and the chest not opening up while on the floor or the mat.
  • Doing this pose with support for the arms and the face with blankets or yoga blocks, will reduce the unwanted stretch at the neck.
  • If the lower back gets to painful while stretching, one could reduce the stretching of the arms in front and go as the body is comfortable.
  • The longer one holds this pose, the maximum the benefit, but one could hold as one is comfortable based on the flexibility of the shoulders and the arms.
  • Placing bolsters between the legs and the thighs, or even yoga blocks, will help to get the alignment of the body perfect and hence hold longer.
  • This pose can bring in some discomfort in the head due to the position of the neck. Hence at the time of releasing from the pose, one needs to go gentle and slow releasing the shoulders and the chest in a step by step way.

Uttana Shishosana Preparatory Poses

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Uttana Shishosana Relaxing Follow-up Poses

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Uttana Shishosana Yoga Sequences

Uttana Shishosana Titles in English and Sanskrit

Many yoga poses have multiple titles because of differences in their Sanskrit to English title translation or a specific title becoming popular because of it's common usage amongst yoga teachers and yoga practitioners. Below are common titles of Uttana Shishosana:

  • Puppy Dog Pose
  • Uttana Shishosana
  • Anahatasana
  • Half Dog Pose
  • Melting Heart Pose

Uttana Shishosana Sanskrit

Please click on the link below to listen to Sanskrit pronunciation of Uttana Shishosana:

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