Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Downward Facing Dog (Sanskrit: Adho Mukha Svanasana) may very well be the most well-known yoga pose of them all.

Both a stimulating and relaxing posture, Downward Dog stretches and strengthens the entire body. The pose is most commonly performed during Sun Salutations and in a vinyasa practice.

The pose itself strengthens the wrists and shoulders while stretching the chest, spine, hamstrings, and calves. Once strength has been developed to hold it, it becomes more of a resting pose than one which requires more effort, as it is very calming for the mind.

How to Do : Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1

Begin in a tabletop position with the hands under the shoulders and knees underneath the hips. Spread the hands wide down into the floor, pressing firmly through the index finger and thumb for support. Draw the shoulder blades into the back and lift the belly muscles upward.

Step 2

On an exhale, tuck the toes and lift the hips up to the sky, making an inverted V-shape with the body.

Step 3

Lengthen the tailbone upward and press the chest through the arms while maintaining proper shoulder alignment. Release the heels toward the floor as if they were magnetized to the ground and lift the kneecaps up toward the hips to active the fronts of the thighs. Let the head hang between the arms.

Step 4

Hold for 3-5 breaths or longer for a challenge.

Downward Facing Dog Benefits

  • Strengthens the wrists, arms, shoulders, and fronts of thighs
  • Stretches the chest, hamstrings, and calves
  • Calms the mind
  • Relieves headache and menstrual pain
  • Energizing
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