Upward Facing Dog
When you are starting out on your yoga journey, doing a Cobra, instead of an upward facing dog initially, can be a useful exercise. By finding the stretch across the back of the upper back in the Cobra first, allows you to experience the sort of sensation you will be looking for in the upward facing dog. We want to feel it in the upper back, not in the lower back.
It is often smaller movements of the spine that are the most therapeutic, so if you haven’t got the strength and shoulder opening available yet, to be rolling over the toes into a comfortable upward facing dog – don’t think you are missing out too much. The building block of lowering fully to the floor first, starts you building that strength you will eventually need, and doing a cobra instead of the upward facing dog, enables you to access the actual stretch we want to find in this position. Strength and Flexibility go hand in hand, you need both to develop at the same time and sometimes, the strength needs to come first, so that the body feels safe to allow flexibility to unfold.
I really like these two videos by Kino MacGregor about these two poses.