Adho-Mukha-Svanasana

Definition: Adho mukha svanasana posture replicates a dog bending forward, hence the name downward facing dog pose. This asana can be practiced by any beginner too and with all its benefits, one should include it as a part of daily yoga practice. Downward dog is a challenging yoga posture that requires lots of strength to do it. It seems like one of the most basic elements in a yoga practice. It involves using the entire body. You can feel its effects from head to toe.

Steps of this pose:

The steps are as follows:

  1. Align your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. The fold of your wrists should be parallel with the top edge of your mat. Point your middle fingers directly to the top edge of your mat. Stretch your elbows and relax your upper back. Spread your fingers wide and press firmly through your palms and knuckles. Distribute your weight evenly across your hands.
  2. Exhale as you tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor. Reach your pelvis up toward the ceiling, and then draw your sit bones toward the wall behind you. Gently begin to straighten your legs, but do not lock your knees. Bring your body into the shape of an “A.” Imagine your hips and thighs being pulled backwards from the top of your thighs. Do not walk your feet closer to your hands — keep the extension of your whole body.
  3. Press the floor away from you as you lift through your pelvis. As you lengthen your spine, lift your sit bones up toward the ceiling. Now press down equally through your heels and the palms of your hands.
  4. Firm the outer muscles of your arms and press your index fingers into the floor. Lift from the inner muscles of your arms to the top of both shoulders. Draw your shoulder blades into your upper back ribs and toward your tailbone. Broaden across your collarbones.
  5. Rotate your arms externally so your elbow creases face your thumbs.Draw your chest toward your thighs as you continue to press the mat away from you, lengthening and decompressing your spine.
  6. Engage your quadriceps. Rotate your thighs inward as you continue to lift your sit bones high. Sink your heels toward the floor.Align your ears with your upper arms. Relax your head, but do not let it dangle. Gaze between your legs or toward your navel.
  7. Hold for 5-100 breaths.To release, exhale as you gently bend your knees and come back to your hands and knees.

Benefits:

  1. Practicing Downward Dog will warm, strengthen, and stretch the entire body. You can use it as a transitional pose (between other poses), or as a full-body stretch on its own.
  2. It increases blood flow and energy while calming your mind! You may find the benefits extend to all areas of your life, even off the mat.
  3. This asana stretches the shoulders, legs, spine and whole body; builds strength throughout the body, particularly the arms, legs, and feet; relieves fatigue and rejuvenates the body; improves the immune system, digestion and blood flow to the sinuses, and calms the mind and lifts the spirits
  4. It improves digestion. It relieves headache, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue.

Precautions:

  1. Do not practice Downward-Facing Dog if you have severe carpal tunnel syndrome or are in late-term pregnancy.
  2. It should also be avoided by those with injury to the back, arms, or shoulders; and by those with high blood pressure, eye or inner ear infections.
  3. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.