POSTURE BREAKDOWN: Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Pin now, master later!

Pin now, master later!

Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Step-By-Step

  1. 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)
  2. 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.
  3. Inhale and flip your toes under (as opposed to the tops of your toes on the ground).
  4. 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.
  5. Straightening your arms and creating a straight line from your wrists to the tip of your tailbone.
  6. Pull your shoulders down from your ears and away from each other on your back. 
  7. Press your thighs back and imagine engaging your inner thighs and pulling them behind you.
  8. Pressing your heels back and towards the ground.
  9. Lift your belly button up towards your spine.
  10. Relax your neck and release your head between your arms.
  11. Hold for 5-8 breaths.
  12. After 5-8 breaths slowly lower your knees back down to the ground. 
  13. 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. 

Pin here, practice later!

Pin here, practice later!

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

Cautions

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)