How to Do Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Shvanasana)

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Downward Facing Dog is one of the most common and well known poses in yoga. 

This is a powerful strength building pose that works many parts of the body including the shoulders, upper back, core, lower back, glutes, hamstrings and calves. 

Sanskrit – Adho Mukha Svanasana

Step By Step How to Do Downward Facing Dog

  1. Beginning on hands and knees. Align the knees under the hips and bring the hands slightly in front of the shoulders. Fingers are spread wide. Toes are curled under.
  2. Exhaling, slowly press down through the hands and slowly lift the hips, creating an upside down “v” shape with your body. Keep the knees slightly bent at first. 
  3. Create a straight line from the tailbone to the base on the neck and keep your head between your arms, gazing back towards the knees.
  4. Rotate the biceps inward to prevent strain and injury of the shoulders.
  5. Press down firmly through the hands to relieve tension on the wrists. 
  6. Begin to bring the heels towards the floor maintaining a slight bend in the knees.
list of how to do downward facing dog

what not to do in downward facing dog

Downward Facing Dog Variations

Dynamic Downward Dog

Create some motion during your downward facing dog by lifting up onto toes and then pressing back down through the heels. You can alternated between feet by bicycling the feet, alternating lifting up on the toes of one foot while pressing down through the heal of the other foot.

Three legged dog

3 legged dog

Bring both feet together. On the inhale, lift your right leg, flexing the foot and reaching through the heal.

Modifications

In downward facing dog, keeping the knees bent is a great alternative if:

  1. You have tight hamstrings and glutes.
  2. Your lower and upper back are rounding. 

Benefits of Downward Facing Dog

  1. Strengthens the whole body.
  2. Stretches the whole body. 
  3. Stimulates circulation.
  4. Calms the mind.
  5. Helps prevent osteoporosis. 
  6. Improves posture.

Contraindications

You should avoid downward facing dog if:

  1. You Have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  2. You Have a Wrist injury
  3. You have a Shoulder Injury
  4. You are in Late Term Pregnancy

Learn more about poses from our Pose Library

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