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Discover the Serenity of Uttana Shishosana (Extended Puppy Pose)

Updated: May 21

Yoga is a journey that invites us to explore the depths of our physical, mental, and spiritual selves. One pose that beautifully encapsulates this exploration is Uttana Shishosana or Extended Puppy Pose. This heart-opening posture is a gentle blend of a Child’s Pose and a Downward-Facing Dog, offering both a stretch and a moment of stillness. Let’s dive into the world of Uttana Shishosana and discover how it can enrich your yoga practice.

Extended Puppy Pose

Uttana Shishosana, also known as Extended Puppy Pose, is a gentle forward bend that combines the elements of a Child’s Pose (Balasana) and Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). This asana provides a deep stretch to the spine and shoulders while promoting relaxation and mental clarity.


The name "Uttana Shishosana" comes from the Sanskrit words "Uttana" (meaning intense stretch) and "Shisho" (meaning puppy), and "Asana" (meaning pose). This pose mimics the playful and curious nature of a puppy stretching its front body, embodying both relaxation and alertness.


Uttana Shishosana is pronounced as OO-tuh-nuh shee-SHOH-suh-nuh


Anatomy of Uttana Shishosana (Extended Puppy Pose)

Uttana Shishosana engages various parts of the body:

  • Spine: The pose elongates and decompresses the spine, providing a deep stretch.

  • Shoulders and Chest: It opens the shoulders and chest, enhancing flexibility and relieving tension.

  • Arms: Stretches the arms and engages the triceps and forearms.

  • Hips: Offers a gentle opening of the hips, similar to Child’s Pose.


How to Perform Uttana Shishosana (Extended Puppy Pose)

  1. Start in Tabletop Position: Begin on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.

  2. Walk Your Hands Forward: Slowly walk your hands forward, keeping your hips over your knees. Your arms should be extended straight out in front of you.

  3. Lower Your Chest: Allow your chest to lower towards the mat, bringing your forehead or chin to rest on the mat. Your arms should remain active, reaching forward.

  4. Engage Your Shoulders: Keep your shoulders relaxed but engaged, drawing your shoulder blades down your back.

  5. Breathe and Hold: Take deep breaths, allowing your spine to elongate and your chest to open with each inhale. Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths.

  6. Release: To come out of the pose, walk your hands back to the starting position and return to the Tabletop.

Uttana Shishosana

When to Do It

Uttana Shishosana is a versatile pose that can be practiced at the beginning of your session to warm up the spine and shoulders, or towards the end to promote relaxation and prepare for deeper stretches or restorative poses.


Preparatory Poses

  • Balasana (Child’s Pose): Gently open the hips and stretches the spine.

  • Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog): Prepares the shoulders and hamstrings for a deeper stretch.

  • Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose): Warms up the spine and opens the chest.


Follow-Up Poses

  • Anahatasana (Heart Melting Pose): Deepens the stretch in the chest and shoulders.

  • Ustrasana (Camel Pose): Continues to open the chest and stretch the spine.

  • Savasana (Corpse Pose): For deep relaxation and integration of the benefits of the pose.


Chakra

Uttana Shishosana is primarily connected to the Anahata (Heart Chakra). This chakra is associated with love, compassion, and emotional balance. By opening the chest and shoulders, this pose helps to balance and activate the Heart Chakra, promoting a sense of openness and emotional well-being.

Heart Chakra

Mantra for This Pose

Chanting the mantra can enhance your practice of Uttana Shishosana. This mantra invokes compassion and love, resonating with the heart-opening qualities of the pose.

“Om Mani Padme Hum”

Alignment Cues

  • Keep your hips directly above your knees to maintain proper alignment.

  • Engage your arms and reach forward to elongate the spine.

  • Allow your chest to melt towards the mat, but avoid collapsing your lower back.

  • Keep your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears.


Duration of Hold

Hold Uttana Shishosana for 5-10 breaths, gradually increasing the duration as your flexibility and comfort with the pose improve.


Drishti

Your drishti (gaze) in Uttana Shishosana should be inward, focusing on the sensations within your body and your breath. This inward focus enhances the meditative quality of the pose.


Physical & Spiritual Awareness

Physically, Uttana Shishosana stretches and opens the spine, shoulders, and chest. Spiritually, it encourages a sense of surrender and openness, inviting you to release tension and embrace a moment of stillness. This pose fosters a deep connection between the physical and emotional bodies, promoting overall well-being.


Beginners’ Tips

  • Use a blanket under your knees for added comfort.

  • If your forehead doesn’t reach the mat, place a block or bolster under it for support.

  • Focus on lengthening the spine rather than forcing your chest to the floor.


Who Should Not Do It

  • Individuals with severe shoulder or neck injuries should avoid this pose.

  • Those with knee pain should use a blanket or cushion under the knees for support.

  • Pregnant women should modify the pose to avoid compressing the belly.


Who Should Do It

  • Practitioners looking to enhance flexibility in the spine, shoulders, and chest.

  • Those seeking to balance and activate the Heart Chakra.

  • Individuals interested in promoting relaxation and mental clarity.


Benefits of Uttana Shishosana (Extended Puppy Pose)

  • Physical Benefits: Stretches and elongates the spine, opens the shoulders and chest, and relieves tension in the upper body.

  • Mental Benefits: Promotes relaxation, reduces stress, and calms the mind. Enhances focus and mindfulness.

  • Spiritual Benefits: Stimulates the Heart Chakra, fostering a sense of love, compassion, and emotional balance.


Variations of Uttana Shishosana (Extended Puppy Pose)

  • Supported Puppy Pose: Place a bolster or block under your chest for a more restorative variation.

  • Thread the Needle Variation: From the Tabletop, thread one arm under the opposite arm, resting your shoulder and cheek on the mat for a deeper shoulder stretch.


Modifications for Uttana Shishosana (Extended Puppy Pose)

  • Use a Blanket: Place a folded blanket under your knees for added comfort and support.

  • Block for Support: Use a block or bolster under your forehead if it doesn’t reach the mat.

  • Bent Elbows: Bend your elbows and bring your palms together in a prayer position above your head for a different shoulder stretch.


Common Mistakes

  • Collapsing the Lower Back: Ensure your hips stay above your knees and your spine remains long.

  • Tension in Shoulders: Keep your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears.

  • Forcing the Pose: Practice gently and avoid pushing your chest to the floor. Focus on lengthening the spine.


Safety and Precautions

  • Practice mindfulness and listen to your body to avoid strain or injury.

  • Use props and modifications as needed to ensure comfort and safety.

  • If you have any medical conditions or injuries, consult with a healthcare provider before practicing Uttana Shishosana.


Additional Preparation Tips

Direction to Face: Facing east during your practice can symbolize new beginnings and clarity, aligning with the heart-opening nature of the pose.

What to Wear: Wear comfortable, stretchy clothing that allows for ease of movement, such as yoga leggings and a fitted top.

Suitable Place and Essential Oil/Fragrance: Practice in a quiet, clean space with a non-slip yoga mat. Diffuse calming essential oils like lavender or eucalyptus to enhance relaxation and focus.

Music for This Pose: Soft, instrumental music or nature sounds can create a serene environment, allowing you to turn inward more easily and deepen your connection to the present moment.


Uttana Shishosana (Extended Puppy Pose) offers a gentle yet profound way to stretch the spine, open the heart, and promote relaxation. This pose, with its blend of physical benefits and spiritual significance, can be a powerful addition to your yoga practice. Approach Uttana Shishosana with mindfulness and patience, and allow its serene energy to guide you toward greater harmony and inner peace. As you embody the playful curiosity of a puppy, may you find a deeper connection to yourself and the world around you.



Happy Yoga-ing!

Namaste!



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About the Author

Namaste! I'm Pooja Chauhan

RYT 200Hrs | Meditation Coach 

Diving deep into the realm of yoga to revive its original teachings to create a significant impact in preserving and sharing them with the world.

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