Among various mental and physical benefits of yoga, one key benefit that also serves as an integral part is maintaining the correct body posture. People, who struggle with body alignments and lousy posture, often look to add efficient yoga poses in their yoga routine to improve their posture.
One such beneficial yoga posture is the ‘Puppy Pose’ that is bound to improve your spinal alignment and bad body posture. In this article, we will see a puppy pose, its benefits, how you can do it, and its contradictions.
What is Puppy Pose?
As a puppy pose is an effective yoga posture, and it has another name in Sanskrit, ‘Uttana Shishosana.’ in the Sanskrit language, ‘uttana’ means intense, ‘shisho’ means puppy, and ‘asana’ means posture or pose. However, this pose is most popularly known as the extended puppy pose due to the posture one makes during the pose.
The puppy pose allows you to have a deep backbend to stretch your back as much as you can while opening up your chest, which is also the ‘heart chakra’ that holds a significant place in the yoga dimensions.
The deep backbend and the opening up of your chest allow complete stretching and relaxation of your body by primary emphasis and focusing on the parts affected by the puppy pose.
Key Benefits of the Puppy Pose
The puppy pose stretches all your body ligaments and muscles; it has significant mental and physical benefits. While Yoga benefits you with concentration, calmness, and peace of mind, some specific poses, like the puppy pose, offer you significant medical and physical benefits as well, such as:
1. Upper Back and Shoulder Stretching
Working for extended hours in front of a desktop or sitting or standing for a prolonged period stiffens the back and shoulder muscles. The extended puppy poses help stretch your shoulder and upper back muscles, significantly improving your posture and body alignment.
The puppy pose also stretches your hamstrings and decreases any chronic muscular tension in your spine and shoulders.
2. Calms Your Body and Mind
Yoga itself helps you relieve mental and physical stress. At the same time, the puppy pose specifically allows you to release any physical or mental tension in your body and mind that you carry within. Keeping your body in the extended puppy pose while inhaling and exhaling deeply allows you to release all the toxicity and tension out of your mind and body while having positivity and calmness for your inner peace and growth.
3. Improves Flexibility in the Spine
Regular Yoga and puppy pose to improve your physical flexibility while focusing on your spine. The spine in a body is directly related to a person’s overall health and flexibility, which is often disturbed and affected due to a static routine.
Stretching your body on the yoga mat while exerting complete focus and pressure on your spine and back allows your muscles to relieve all the pain and muscular tension at your back and shoulders.
4. Stimulates Blood Flow and Organ Functioning
The puppy pose is a deep stretch exercise that offers great relaxation to your lower and upper back muscles while also relaxing your hip muscles. Stretching and relaxing these main areas of your body stimulates your blood flow which further results in better functioning of your organs.
In this pose, a great heart and chest opening is offered to the body as a person stretches their back on the floor. This further decreases the back and shoulder tension. A person experiences improved lung, kidney, and heart functionality with improved blood flow and organ functioning.
5. Improves Rounded Backs
Working all day on the desks makes your back hunched, which results in a rounded back. The puppy pose eliminates stiffness and muscle soreness of your shoulder and back and helps improve rounded back and shoulders that further lead to a hunched back.
6. Relieves Stress and Tension
Maintaining a strict routine and a busy schedule often lead to a stressful lifestyle and a clouded mind. The puppy pose helps relieve stress and tension that you accumulate and burden your mind. Stress and tension also significantly impact one’s body and health.
Extended puppy pose in this regard offers you some time off from stress and tension and, with time, actually relieves anxiety disorders.
7. Improves and Regulates Energy Flow
Practicing the puppy pose regularly regulates and improves energy flow in your body which makes you feel balanced and grounded both mentally and physically.
Some lesser known but equally important benefits are:
- Invigorates your body
- Relieves chronic insomnia, tension, anxiety, and stress
- Stretches your shoulders and spine
- Strengthens your bones and muscles of the hips, upper back, and the arms
- Improves fortification of your body
- Provides overall flexibility and strength to your body
- Provides relaxation to your muscles and ligaments of the shoulders, arms, back, and abdomen
- It helps treat shoulder-related ailments
Step-By-Step Instructions to Perform Puppy Pose
If you have been doing Yoga for some days now, performing the puppy pose won’t be very difficult. It is one of the most effortless and most relaxing yoga pose ever. Here is a step-by-step instruction guide on how you can perform the extended puppy pose:
- The first step is to get on all four limbs, also called the tabletop position. In this position, your hips should be straightly aligned to your knees, and then rest your shoulders on the knees.
- Press your feet firmly on the mat while keeping your toes straight. Make sure to keep your hips width apart and your feet parallel to each other.
- Exhaling deeply, keep your hands in front of you and slowly stretch your chest on the floor while slowly forwarding your forehead down on the mat.
- Spread your fingers on the yoga mat, so your thumb and fingers are pressing firmly on the floor. Now squeeze the palms of both your hands on the floor to exert more pressure.
- Now stretch your arms in the upward direction to broaden your shoulders. Wrap your triceps downwards in the direction of the floor so your biceps move upwards towards the ceiling.
- Keep your arms active during the puppy pose so your elbows feel slightly up from the yoga mat.
- After inhaling a few deep breaths in the same position, exhale and deepen your stretch by moving your hips upwards and downwards towards the wall behind you. While continuously moving your chest up and down on the floor.
- To support your spine, you can also gently hug your front ribs but remember to avoid collapsing in the lower back.
- Hold this position for around five to seven deep breaths.
- Release the position by slowly coming back to your four limbs and then standing in the straight position.
Modifications for Puppy Pose
A yoga mat is a basic necessity that you need among the yoga accessories for the puppy pose. However, you can add a bit of modification to enhance your comfort level or ease your yoga posture.
If you struggle or find it challenging to lean straight on the floor, feeling the floor to be too hard, you can use a blanket or a soft yoga mat to have a comfy o soft surface beneath so that you can stretch down easily. You can also place this blanket or a soft cushioning mat under your knees to provide support when you bend and kneel.
If you also face difficulty touching your forehead to the floor, you can place a block under your forehead so you do not have to exert extra pressure on your body by touching the floor with your forehead.
If you want to make the puppy pose more challenging, you can try a deeper stretch by placing your elbows on the blocks and joining your hands above your head, just like you do for prayer.
These modifications can significantly ease your experience and posture for the puppy pose while adding more strength and relaxation to your body. You can props and yoga accessories as per your need to meet your requirements to strike that accurate puppy pose.
Variations of Puppy Pose
Although the puppy pose is one of the most basic yoga postures, you can still add variations and challenges to it. Here are the five basic variations of puppy pose that you can try and follow if they seem fit for you:
1. Regular Puppy Pose
The regular puppy pose is where you start with the tabletop position and keep your hands on the knees. Slowly move forward and lean your chest and forehead on the floor while trying your best to touch the ground as much as possible.
You can either keep your arms straight on the floor or hug your shoulder blades towards the front of your ribs and chest. The primary goal is to feel a maximum stretch in your shoulder girdle, which depends on how much flexibility you can manage.
The puppy pose should be as comfortable as possible, and if you start to feel any pinching or tingling in your shoulders or arm, you might be pinching a nerve. So, do not go too harsh on yourself and start with slow and easy stretches that you can enhance and make more challenging with time.
2. Active Press Puppy Pose
Start with the normal tabletop position while hugging the outer edges of your armpits towards the floor. With your head and chest on the ground, press your palms into the floor as if you’re pushing the floor with total exertion.
Push as hard as possible so your body can feel the force, and your arms might start shaking. Hold this active press and count to ten while inhaling and exhaling. Return to the usual puppy pose and continue for another ten to twenty seconds.
3. Neck Extensions Puppy Pose
You have to start with the typical puppy pose for the neck extensions but add blocks beneath your hands to provide extra pressure. When you get down on the floor with your chest and forehead touching, keep your chest low and slowly start tilting your head up.
You can start by gazing at your fingertips and looking up at the ceiling. Once you face upwards, you feel like your armpits are getting closer to the ground. Lowering your head slowly down to the ground again, repeat the process for about six to ten head lifts in a single puppy pose session.
4. Bent Elbow Puppy Pose
The bent elbow puppy pose is a variation that provides extra stimulation to your elbow and arm muscles. You can start this variation by coming in the tabletop position, bending your elbows on the ground, and joining your hands or fingers as you would for prayer.
Hold this position for twenty to thirty seconds by dropping your chest down to the mat. If you feel difficulty in this position, you can elevate your elbows on the yoga blocks to provide added support to the elbows. You can even hold a yoga block between your hands to keep them apart.
5. Arms Lift Puppy Pose
For this variation, start with the initial position and lean down on the floor while shifting your body weight to the left side and press firmly on your left hand so you can raise your right arm. Keep your chest square without twisting; however, you will still need to lift your chest a bit to support one hand.
Now rotate your raised right hand facing the ceiling with your palm, face, and thumb. Slowly lift a bit and lower your right arm keeping it straight and making the thumb pointing towards the ceiling now.
Repeat the hand movement five to ten times with one hand. Rest and repeat the variation with the left arm now.
Contraindications of Puppy Pose
The puppy pose is not very harsh; there are no specific or extreme contraindications to performing it. However, you should require professional yoga instructions if you have:
- Chronic back, shoulder, or hip pain
- Past injury of hips, knee, spine, or shoulders
- Any past hip or spinal surgery
- Tissue or muscle injury of the back, shoulders, or knees
Related Questions Regarding Puppy Pose
Here are some of the most common frequently asked questions related to puppy pose:
What is Puppy Pose, and How Can I Do it?
The puppy pose is an effortless and basic yoga pose that offers stretching of your back and chest opening to your body for better blood flow. It is quickly done by being on your knees, leaning your chest on the floor, and placing your forehead on the ground while keeping your shoulders straight for maximum stretch.
What are the Benefits of the Puppy Pose?
While providing calmness to mind and body, the puppy pose dramatically improves blood circulation and organ functionality for a healthier body.
Are there Variations in the Puppy Pose?
Yes, there are four to five variations in the puppy pose posture that you can adopt for your ease. These variations include different styles of shoulder and neck stretching.
Who Should not Perform the Puppy Pose?
There are no extreme contraindications. However, people with past injuries or surgeries related to the back, spine, hips, knees, or shoulders should avoid performing puppy poses without medical clearance and a yoga instructor.
The puppy pose is the most effective yoga posture, relaxing your overall muscles and ligaments. In addition, to providing enhanced organ functionality and improved blood circulation.
This article discusses the puppy pose, its benefits, step-by-step instructions to perform it, and variations and contraindications related to it.