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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Remain in Adho Mukha Svanasana for a few breaths, say 6 breaths, and feel the stretch at the neck and the shoulders while exhaling.
- Now, slowly exhale bend the knees and place them on the floor, just below the hips, while the palms remain firm on the floor.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- As you exhale, rest the forehead on the floor, raising the lower back upwards feeling the stretch at the shoulders and arms.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Remain in Cat Cow Pose and follow few rounds with inhalation and exhalation, moving from position ‘A’ to position ‘B’.
- Release and go down again to Extended Puppy Dog Pose, and remain here for about 8 breaths.
- 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.