Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

One of my favorite yoga poses is Downward Facing Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana. I find this pose to be very playful and versatile, since you don’t have to be particularly flexible to really enjoy this pose and it allows quite a bit of room for movement. Downward Facing Dog can have several physical and mental benefits.

Downward Facing Dog can help relieve stress and depression, and can also help calm your brain. If you’re lying awake wondering if penguins have knees (they do), take a moment in Downward Facing Dog and take a few deep breaths. Downward Facing Dog can also help increase energy levels, making it a great pose for the morning as well! Adho Mukha Svanasana helps improve strength and flexibility in the shoulders, hamstrings, arches, calves, and hands as well.

Practicing Adho Mukha Svanasana regularly has a tendency to relieve physical ailments. Menstrual discomfort, back pain, fatigue (remember the increased energy levels?), insomnia, and headaches. This amazing pose can also help improve digestion, making you healthier all around. Relief of the symptoms of certain conditions also makes Downward Facing Dog a must in your practice. It can assist with relieving the symptoms of asthma, sciatica, flat feet, high blood pressure, and sinusitis!

Adho Mukha Svanasana is one of the easier poses in yoga, but there are still many facets to doing this pose properly.

  • Begin on your hands and knees, with your hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips.
  • Curl your toes under.
  • Exhale and send your sitting bones up to the sky, slowly straightening your legs and lengthening heels to the floor.
    • Be careful not to over stretch. Do not stretch so far that it hurts!
    • Make sure your knees are not locked.
  • Keep your muscles active all over and make sure your head is not hanging. Your head should remain directly between your arms.

You can hold this pose for as long as it feels good to do so. I like to “walk” my feet, putting more weight on one foot, then the other. Doing this helps me get the most out of my Downward Facing Dog. Adriene has a great video on this pose as well and I highly recommend taking a look. Happy Yoga-ing!!!!

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