Downward Facing Dog - Adho Mukha Svanasana - The Yoga Collective

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Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana

Pose Summary

Downward-Facing Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana  is one of the most common yoga postures. It’s actually considered a mild inversion that strengthens and stretches the entire body.

Yogi Practicing Downdog

Step 1
Start in tabletop on all fours. Shoulders stacked over elbows and wrists. Hips are stacked over knees.

Step 2
Walk the hands 2 inches in front of your shoulders, spread your fingers wide and firmly root hands into the earth with the weight distributed evenly throughout your hands.

Step 3
On an exhale, tuck the toes, lift the knees off the earth and shift the hips up and back. Create an upside down V with your body. Gently straighten your legs. Reach your heels towards the earth (they don’t have to touch)  and press the floor away with your hands. 

Step 4
Lengthen your spine. *You can bend your knees as much as you need to in order to do this. 

Step 5
Your triceps rotate back as your elbow creases face forward.

Step 6
Draw your shoulders away from your ears, relax the hand slightly and bring your gaze to your thighs or your navel 

Step 7
Engage the quads as you rotate your inner thighs back. Micro-bend the knees and elbows so as not to lock them out. Breath deeply.

Step 8
To get out of Downward Facing Dog: On an exhale, bend the knees and gently release them back onto the earth. 

Modifications & Tips:
* For Beginners or anyone with tight hamstring or tight lower back place a generous bend in your knees.
* For tight calves you could place a rolled up towel or blanket under your heels.
*For tight shoulders you could spread your arms wider then shoulder distance (maybe to the edges of your mat or slightly off your mat). Try a few different positions out and do what feels best for your body.
*The goal is to keep the spine long and straight. Try bending the knees a bit and lifting your tailbone towards the sky. This will lengthen your spine a lot. Try to keep this length in you spine as you slowly straighten your legs to your degree.

Variations:
*Try bending one knee and then the other. This is often called walking your Dog.
*Try bending the elbows a bit and rolling your shoulders back. This will create more space to broaden across the collar bones.
*If your calves are open and your heels are able to touch the ground try lifting your toes off the ground to increase the stretch in your calves.

Benefits

  • Stretches hamstrings, shoulders, calves, lower back and spine
  • Helps relieve symptoms of menopause, asthma and fatigue 
  • Benefits of inversions (increased blood flow to the brain) include: 
    • Calming of central nervous system 
    • Relief from headaches 
    • Increased energy

Contraindications

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome 
  •  Late-term pregnancy.
  • Shoulder, back or arm injuries 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Inner ear infection 
  • Eye infection