Home 9 Yoga Poses 9 Downward Facing Dog pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Downward Facing Dog pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

The Story Behind the Name:

Downward Facing Dog- Adho Mukha Svanasana (AH-doh MOO-kah shvah-NAHS-anna), is a mild inversion that calms the nervous system and helps relieve stress and  often practiced as part of a flowing sequence of poses, especially Surya Namaskar, the Salute to the Sun.

The Sanskrit name is from adhas meaning “down”, mukha meaning “face”, śvāna meaning “dog”, and āsana meaning “posture” or “seat”.

It’s called downward facing dog and it is a yoga pose in which the body forms an inverted “V” with the feet and hands pressing into the ground and the hips pushing to the sky.

The name comes from the pose’s similarity to the way a dog wakes up and go into a deep stretch when getting up.

Downward Dog stretches the hamstring and calf muscles in the backs of the legs and builds strength in the shoulders.

Difficulty Level: 

  • Beginner

Drishti point: 

  • Nose

Technical details and how to start: 

  • Start in table position, on all fours position, with your hips above your knees and shoulders above your wrists.
  • Tuck your toes under, and on an exhalation, engage your lower belly drawing the navel back to the spine and lift up.
  • Spread your fingers with a middle finger pointing forward.
  • Keep your knees bent if you have to.
  • Title the tailbone to the ceiling.
  • Lengthen your spine.
  • Slide your shoulder blades down along the spine, collar bones spread, relax the neck.
  • Hold the pose for five breaths.
  • To come out of the pose, bring your knees back down to the floor and come into Child’s/Resting pose.

Health Benefits:

  • This pose strengthens bones to help prevent osteoporosis.
  • Lengthens & straightens the spine, which could help to relieve back pain.
  • Boosts circulation and energises the body.
  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression.
  • Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands.
  • Strengthens the arms and legs.
  • Improves digestion.

Beginner’s tips

  • Bend the knees if you have to.
  • Make sure the fat part of the first finger is firmly pressing down, to protect your wrists. 
  • Shift your weight back into the hips. 

Safety Precautions

  • Avoid this pose if you have a wrist injury or carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Avoid this pose if you are in the last trimester of pregnancy.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Eye or inner ear infection
  • If in doubt check with your health practitioner before you start doing it.

Please Note:

People who decide to start practising Yoga and who are suffering from any cardiac problem, asthma, back pain, high blood pressure, neck, shoulder or spine injury or any other health related issue, should consult a doctor before starting any yogic activities and eliminate the positions that are not suitable for their particular case. Also, some particular asanas such as inversion asanas are not recommended for female practitioners who are menstruating.

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