Perfect your form: upward-facing dog

Protect your back by keeping your legs off the mat.

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Many athletes do upward-facing dog pose incorrectly, making it more likely that they’ll strain their lower backs.

“People view upward-facing dog as a big back bend with the sole focus of straightening their arms, forgetting about the rest of their body,” says Sarah Girard, a New York City-based yoga instructor who teaches at several Equinox locations. Students commonly leave their legs on the mat, when they should be lifting the quads and knees off of the ground. “This is a whole-body pose and the engagement of the legs is vital for organizing the pelvis and stabilizing the lower trunk.”

Make sure to check in with your lower body. Press the tops of your feet firmly into the mat, which will lift your knees and thighs off of the floor. Girard suggests using yoga blocks under the hands for an added lift to the posture. “If you feel your quads and arms engaging more than your low back, you’re on the right path,” Girard says.