Posture Clinic: Adho Mukha Svanasana

Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog

Beautiful young woman working out indoors, doing yoga exercise in the room with white walls, downward facing dog pose, adho mukha svanasana (sun salutation pose), full length, side viewAdho Mukha Svanasana is a foundational yoga asana, or posture. It’s practiced in many traditional sun and moon salutations and can eventually become a pose of rest. This inverted posture is beneficial for all levels.

Follow these steps to get into Adho Mukha Svanasana:

  1. Start in tabletop position, checking that wrists are under shoulders and knees are under hips. Spread your fingers wide apart and ground down through your palms.
  2. Lightly engage your core by drawing your navel up and in, tuck your toes under and on your next exhale lift knees off the ground as you press sitting bones toward the sky. Keep knees bent at first to encourage length in your spine. Feel free to walk your dog (alternately pedal your heels to begin waking up the back of your legs).
  3. Find stillness as you root your heels toward the ground (it’s ok if they don’t touch) and see how it feels to straighten legs (be sure not to lock your knees); if you have tight hamstrings you may choose to keep a slight bend in your knees.
  4. Tuck your tailbone slightly to find a neutral pelvis. Encourage external rotation in your upper arms, broadening your shoulder blades to relax the muscles of your upper back.
  5. Lengthen your neck by keeping your ears in line with your biceps and gaze back toward ankles, knees or navel.
    Continue to breathe as you create length and strength throughout your body. Stay for 5 breaths, working up to 2 minutes(about 24 breaths), then rest in child’s pose.
Benefits of Adho Mukha Svanasana:
  • Stretches shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands
  • Strengthens arms and legs
  • Improves circulation, flushing toxins, regulating blood pressure, and boosting immune health
  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
  • Re-aligns the spine, creating length and helping to ease back tension
Cautions for Adho Mukha Svanasana:
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Diarrhea
  • High blood pressure or headache: support your head on a bolster or block
  • Pregnancy – might skip this pose in 3rd trimester or choose to hold for less time