Downward Facing Dog Pose
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Pose of the week: Downward Facing Dog - Adho Mukha Svanasana

By Ashley Michelle

Downward Facing Dog– Adho Mukha Svanasana

(AH-doh MOO-kah shvah NAHS-anna)

Adho - downward | Mukha - face | Shvana - dog

Downward Facing Dog is a great place to pause and take a break.

While in a class, or if you want to try this pose at home, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Begin from a table top position.

*Yogi Tip – Come onto hands and knees with hips stacked over the knees. Look back at the ankles and check that the ankles are in alignment with the knees. Wrists will come directly under the shoulders, fingertips spread nice and wide. Add a claw-like effect to your fingertips. Ensure that you have a little bit of space between the palm of the hand and the yoga mat. This will help create strength and stability in the hands and wrists. Eye gaze is straight down. Press firmly into the tops of your feet and into the hands. Draw the navel up towards the back body. Find deeper, longer breaths as you think about elongating your neck and spine, reaching the top of your head forward.

  • Once ready to transition into Downward Facing Dog, walk the hands about one hand space forward. Bring the front of your wrist creases parallel to the top of your yoga mat. Remember to keep that claw-like effect in the hands and wrists.

  • Begin to curl the toes under and start moving the hips up towards the sky, knees bent generously at first. Walk your heels up and down, gradually lifting the hips up higher and higher as you walk your dog. Head comes in between your arms and eye gaze towards the back of the yoga mat.

  • Forget about flat feet in Downward Facing Dog. More importantly, think about having a long or tall spine. Avoid arching or rounding in the back of the body as you begin to straighten out in the knees. (Be mindful not to lock in your knees and if it feels better to keep that generous bend, then do that.)

  • You can continue to walk your dog by drawing the heels down one at a time, feeling a nice stretch in the back of the calves. Think about bringing your belly towards the tops of your thighs.

  • When ready to find stillness, walk the feet so they come to line up under the hips. Draw the heels towards the floor. Connect in with your breath as you begin to broaden your chest and shoulders.

*Yogi tip – Downward Facing Dog is often considered a place to rest and catch your breath when moving through stronger or swifter yoga practices. With a regular practice, Down Dog can be a great place to connect into the present moment. However, sometimes we need to rest our body in a different way depending on the moment. Bringing the knees to the earth and coming into Child’s Pose to explore a few deeper breaths is an amazing and often forgotten about option.

Jen Vince demonstrates Downward Facing Dog pose.

Possible Physical Benefits

  • Strengthens calves, legs, arms, shoulders, torso

  • Energizes the body

  • Can help relieve lower back pain

Possible Mental Benefits

  • Can help improve focus

  • Can help you develop a sense of willpower

  • Can help relieve mild stress and anxiety

Last week: Warrior III - Virabhadrasana III

Next week: Child's Poses - Balasana

*Photos taken at The Spiritual Spa

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