Adho – downward
Mukha – facing
Svana – dog
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
- If held for a longer duration energy is restored to someone who is feeling fatigued.
- This pose is very calming despite the energizing effect on the body.
- Relieves stiffness in the heels and shoulders, may help with arthritis in the joints.
- Strengthens as well as lengthens arms and legs.
- Because this pose is weight-bearing it may help prevent osteoporosis.
- Lengthening of the spine may help alleviate back pain.
- Good inversion for those who cannot do Sirsasana for any reason.
- There are really no contraindications for Adho Mukha Svanasana so much as there are modifications for various types of conditions. Modified, this pose should be accessible to most people.
- Carpal tunnel, wrist injuries — may be able to do pose with hands on blocks, over rolled up edge of mat, or with hands on wall.
- High blood-pressure, headache, or dizziness — head should be fully supported either on a block or a bolster
- Yoga Journal online noted that women in the third trimester should avoid this pose; they are likely to err on the side of caution. Both Patricia Walden and Geeta Ieyngar note that women can do inversions throughout pregnancy so long as they feel beneficial.
- Start from table position, on hands and knees. The knees directly under the hips and the feet 6-8 inches apart.
- Begin with the hands directly under the shoulders then move them forward a hand’s distance.
- Spread out the fingers with each middle finger in alignment with the wrist. Press firmly through the fingers, rolling the thumb and the first finger towards one another. Shrug the shoulders down the back.
- Curl the toes under and inhale deeply.
- On an exhalation press through the hands and lift the hips upwards.
- Lengthen through the arms and turn inner elbows so they “face” each other.
- Keeping the shoulder blades moving towards the tailbone, open across the upper back. Head should be relaxed or extend through the crown of the head with neck and throat equally open.
- Draw the belly in and up towards the heart center.
- Hips lift and sit bones tilt upwards.
- Lengthen through the back of the legs by engaging the front of the legs.
- Heels project down and back, even if they do not touch the floor. Toes will eventually lift off the floor.