A Sacred Earth Mission The Art Of 
Brooke Cottle
contact Featured Yoga Pose 
taken from the book Yoga Earth Is by Brooke Cottle
All images and content copyright © Brooke Cottle. All rights reserved.copyright.htmlshapeimage_30_link_0
Up Dog
(Urdhva Mukha Shvana-asana) about giclee prints commission a fine art back to books in progress about the fine art  what is a soul energy portrait™ art shop index
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I awake to a sense of feeling protected. 
My heart song sings because it knows faith.

Benefits of pose: 
~  confidence, opens lungs, expands the rib cage
~  makes the spine strong and supple, cures backaches
~  fresh blood and oxygen to reproductive organs and pelvis
~  strong thighs

When we find an animal’s natural behavior is significant or a specific aspect speak of a law that should be respectively acknowledged, that behavior or aspect invites a yogi to gain further insight into his or her divine nature. Here we look into the raw nature and wisdom of our yogic totem found within the wolf, the “father” of dogs. 

When the wolf creates this position, he expresses a rather confident advertisement of the heart. He owns a sense of purpose in his constant creating of more and more space within his upper cage. The heart is the center chakra. It is the place where we magnetically attract and hold existence and, in many ways, a wolf shows us how to keep the heart as rather a compassionate gateway. Wolves, or dogs, act out of a knowingness, have proven to display amazing trust. So in the least, we can learn from the secure relationship they have established with the Earth, for it depicts a persistent awareness. 

As shown, the yogi is flattening her shoulder blades into the back body while pushing the heart forward and up. However, when the wolf does so, he is also preparing to share knowledge. He will stretch this way, will make this profound lift, not only to tell us of his confidence, but also to access a new channel that opens his vocals. Reflecting on how the wolf positions himself in such a way so his sound can come from deep within when he howls can suggest to the yogi practicing Up Dog pose to be aware of how she (or he) attunes to her upper chakras. 

As much as the wolf keeps the front of the neck back toward the spine, he keeps it long. His shoulders naturally draw back. Likewise, a yogi is often asked to create length in the neck by keeping significant space between the shoulders and ears. But our yogic totem in the wolf also reminds us to keep the sides of the neck soft upon entry into the pose. He maintains this softness while his howl has also been known to create for himself a soothing effect. This is important because tensing the sides of the neck often occurs to yoga practitioners, of all levels, and particularly in Up Dog Pose. Yet another reason to reflect upon the wolf, upon nature’s original formation of the pose, is because a yogi, through understanding the wolf’s neck position, can then refine her own. The wolf seems to also appreciate what can soothe the most strained muscle in the body, the muscle between the upper and lower jaw. Besides a stiff neck, a tense jaw is a great cause of misalignment in the spine. Thus, in aspiring to keep the neck long, and sides soft, the yogi will then be totally supported. The back muscles can then do their job so the front body can receive a full and deep stretch. 

One of the pose’s benefits is the removal of “burdens” off the shoulders or stress that commonly builds in this area of the body. However, once the release of the neck back toward the spine becomes easier for the yogi, she is also invited to then connect with the “softness” of mind. Ultimately, the actions of the lower and upper chakra areas will work together for the complete surrender of the pose but, by becoming freer in this area, the practitioner will align the self to experience what the wolf already knows; the song of the heart! 

Perhaps he howls so as not to forget how to know from the heart, or how to soothe his own savage beast. Although he is known to negotiate ferociously within the physical world, the wolf maintains the nurturing side of his nature throughout his life. Wolf packs can be very loving and gentle and playful. When he’s not overly dominant, he owns the balance between lower and upper realities. His howl is known to let it all out as much as it is known to create, for it cleanses, while the act of maintaining his openness suggests the infusion of light.

There are many other yogic hints that a howling wolf totem gives us, but especially for the chanting yogi. Imagine you could communicate with all that exists! It’s an electrifying experience to find one’s core sound, and the wolf is known to also howl just for the joy of living! His freeness of sound is “ah” and then “ou”. One ancient spelling of “OM”, the one sound of the universe, is “Ah-ou-m”. It incorporates all vowel sounds before the closing “mm”. “Ah” refers to the waking state of consciousness while “ou” refers to the dream state. Together they signify the state of living perfection, or what ancients called the “waking dream”. A true yogi aspires to be an active participant in creating such a state of wellness, and the spirit of the wolf unabashedly calls one to the rather healthy or wild side of their self esteem. Perhaps you have at some point in your life dared to envision yourself as a wolf, dancing and howling under a full moon? Up Dog Pose symbolizes this most delightful demeanor, where one is confident and healthy enough to experience boundlessness. This suggests how closely connected celebration is to spiritual evolution.

Too often, we mask the expressive and the creative powers within us. This is seen in statements such as “I can’t sing” or “I’m too shy” or “you have to be born with that gift”. Be it the epitome of the wild to show the chanter how to be less inhibited. It’s safe to say that the wolf, not only possesses his own power of vibration within his howl, but also feels that vibration within his core, primal being. Hence, this means we can, too. So, yogi, make your noise when you chant but do not pay too much attention to the physical sound that comes out nor the “right” singing note. It is more important to allow your chant to massage the spine! This will connect you more closely to the supreme creative forces, the same ones that first arose at the time of creation. These are the forces that sustain life! 

His “up dog” stance even seems to provide him authentic protection, for he refuses to settle for the illusion of a safe haven. A wolf will set out on a journey, away from the pack, and explore. He greatly learns through trial and error. When he discovers that his efforts have had success, he seeks to integrate with them, or ground them into his being. Here is another reason why he howls.(To note, “success” can mean the endless depths of harmonic wealth.) Not only does he benefit by his lone time, he celebrates the prayer by becoming its success. This signifies going on a quest or embarking on a spiritual journey. We must cease the prayer, be the prayer, in order to purify ourselves down to the cellular level. So, that which we can gain by reflecting on our yogic totem in the wolf is invaluable, for his most positive attributes symbolize spiritual integration. In turn, we are then protected by the light of our being.

In Native American Earth Medicine, the wolf symbolizes the energy of the Pathfinder because he then always returns to the clan, perhaps for the sense of community, companionship or sharing. This represents a healthy balance between self and other, as he needs to be both solitary and part of a team. Awareness of other speaks of the exalted heart, the ability to show compassion and, not so coincidentally, Up Dog Pose is the “pathfinder” to the ultimate heart opener found in a back bend. Thus, by demonstration, the wolf teaches us the benefit of surrendering over our protective controls and rather bringing the heart to the forefront in all situations.

Whereas in Down Dog Pose the wolf shows us the path to a sense of self, or the “Who am I” question in the cosmic sense, in Up Dog Pose he is offering to us what he has found, or the “This is Who I Am” answer. These are two signature displays in yoga, the working team effort of tucking and tilting. The opposing actions that are required for both Down Dog and Up Dog poses in itself show how there’s a yogi within the wolf that has glanced towards freedom. Whoever is aware enough within themselves to be aware of the world around them owns the sense of knowing in general. Perhaps, because of his organized complexity, the wolf has also been symbolized as the Seer in Earth Medicine. 

Aside from the wolf’s hints regarding our upper chakras in the pose, we learn even more about Up Dog Pose through the wolf’s more primal impressions. He is a hunter, a grounded land animal as well as a traveler. Also a master survivor, he owns the strength of moving forward in the natural world. Even if he has to hunt for it a little he will. Within his ability to get what he needs, the wolf finds resolve, and then some. Because the wolf has virtually never alienated himself from the pulse of the Earth, he finds further resolve in the development of his courage! Within this method that shows us he knows he belongs, he tells us that living should be a passionate statement! 

The irony in Up Dog Pose is that the yogi is to lift off the ground. But, let us not be fooled. The wolf’s wisdom, and ours, will come from a strong and deepening power. There are four points to the pose that ground it; the two palms of the hands and two tops of the feet. It’s almost as if the yogi who is practicing Up Dog needs even more leverage here. In order to create the attainment of the lift, the thighs are required to work hard and stretch long. This is through activating the “tail” bone down toward the heels. Also required are strong back muscles but, even more so, core stomach muscles that can move in toward the spine. However, the wolf seems to do the “earth” part of the pose without any effort. There exists a lightness when he stretches.

Hence, when we know the wolf within us, we will express outwardly our boundless successes as well as teach others our new knowledge. We may dance it out, sing it out, and not care what others may think, for it is more important to live out one’s truth. Up Dog Pose honors the victorious spirit, the one who will “tone”, the one who will persevere and find their own directional skill, for the one who  “tracks down” their inner sanctuary will be free enough to be free. Thus, the wolf as a yogic totem asks us to bring absolute assurance that guidance is present within our prayers, for he owns the sense of what will happen at the end. And this is the definition of faith! Perhaps this is why the old saying came to be; “you can’t break a dog’s spirit”.

As the wolf suggests, Up Dog Pose can be energetically, as well as communicatively, liberating when we “sound from the heart”. If we put on too many controls, we’ll inhibit the trust 
we need in ourselves to confront obstacles or fears. Whether we are seeking 
out an inner sanctuary, or even cultivating a strong family, we need to 
follow those primal instincts within us and show some heart. This 
pose symbolizes a spiritual rebirth, even in its deepening, 
grounding effects. It reflects back an image that sings of 
the all pervading light of consciousness. 
Ted Andrews Foreword