POSTURE BREAKDOWN: Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
- Start on all fours - knees under your hips and hands slightly in front of your shoulders (maybe do a little cat/cow to loosen up the spine)
- Spread your fingers wide and press each finger firmly into the ground (especially the area between your thumbs and pointer fingers) - index fingers are parallel.
- Inhale and flip your toes under (as opposed to the tops of your toes on the ground).
- Exhale and lift your knees off the ground as you straighten your legs (make sure you don't lock your knees!) and lift your butt/hips/tailbone up and back. Picture that someone is standing behind you and holding on to your hips and pulling them back.
- Straightening your arms and creating a straight line from your wrists to the tip of your tailbone.
- Pull your shoulders down from your ears and away from each other on your back.
- Press your thighs back and imagine engaging your inner thighs and pulling them behind you.
- Pressing your heels back and towards the ground.
- Lift your belly button up towards your spine.
- Relax your neck and release your head between your arms.
- Hold for 5-8 breaths.
- After 5-8 breaths slowly lower your knees back down to the ground.
- Push back into Child's Pose and rest for a few breaths.
NOTE: If you have tender wrists, make sure you are pressing the area between your thumbs and pointer fingers firmly down to the ground.
MODIFICATION (see image below): A great modification for this pose is to put each of your hands on blocks or the seat of a metal folding chair. This helps with lengthening and straightening your spine, releasing and opening your shoulders, and grounding your heels.
Benefits (Source: Yoga Journal)
- Stretches your shoulders, hamstrings, and calves
- Calms your brain and helps relieve stress
- Energizes your entire body
- Strengthens your arms and legs
- Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
- Helps prevent osteoporosis
- Improves digestion
- Relieves headaches, insomnia, fatigue, and back pain
- Therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure, sciatica, sinusitis, and flat feet
If you are pregnant, please consult with your doctor, however, I do not advise doing this pose in late-term pregnancy.
Prep Poses (do these before downward-facing dog)
Follow-Up Poses (do these after downward-facing dog)
- Child's Pose
- Various standing poses
- Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)