Starting Position: Lie on your stomach on a mat with your legs straight and toes pointing away from you. Place your hands directly under your shoulders with your fingers pointed forward. Elbows are alongside of your body and pointing toward your feet. Your head is an extension of your spine. Try to keep your head in line with your torso throughout the exercise.
Gently exhale. Deepen your abdominals and lengthen your spine. Keep the shoulder blades pulling down the back. Begin to straighten your elbows and press your upper body away from the floor. Continue the movement only until you feel an appropriate stretch. Do not bounce or push to the point of pain. As your elbows straighten, your hips and upper thighs will begin to lift off the mat, but do not allow your knees to lift off the floor. Hold this position for 15 - 30 seconds and slowly return to your starting position. Repeat the movement 2 - 4 times.
The object of this exercise is to lengthen the spine and hips, stretch the muscles on the front side of your trunk and pelvis. Upward Facing Dog is not intended to be a strengthening exercise for your chest and arms.
To maximize the benefits of this exercise and reduce the potential for injury, it is important to control your movement speed, carefully monitoring for any symptoms of pain in your spine or hips. Be sure to differentiate the feeling of tightness from pain.