Downward facing dog is one of the most popular yoga poses. It helps in complete stretching of your core and helps in improving the flexibility of the body. It is also practiced as a part of sun salutation sequence (Surya namaskar). It is considered by several practitioners to be a transitive and a resting pose that also helps in building up strength and flexibility.
Downward facing dog pose steps, benefits and precautions
Adho Mukha Svanasana meaning
The name of the Downward facing dog pose is made of four sanskrit words.
- ‘Adho’ meaning below
- ‘Mukha’ meaning face
- ‘Svan’ meaning dog
- ‘Asana’ meaning pose
How to do the downward facing dog pose?
Here is a step by step guide on how to do the downward facing dog pose or the adho mukha svanasana.
You have to start the yoga asana on your hands and knees with your wrists aligned under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips. The fingers of your hands should be pointing straight ahead.
Distribute your weight evenly on both hands and stretch your elbows.
Push back with your hands and lift your knees from the floor. Push your pelvis upwards towards the ceiling and straighten your legs. Please ensure that you are not locking your knees completely.
Please ensure that you are keeping your chest straight and not bending it while you are in this pose.
At all points of time, you should point your toes forward. A distance of less than 1 feet should be maintained between both feets. Holding them too wide or too close will not allow you to get into the right position.
Try to push your head down with your shoulders moving towards your pelvis. Try to push the heels of your feet towards the floor so that you feel a stretch in your legs.
This is the most common mistake that a lot of practitioners do where they don’t push their heels towards the floors and do the yogasana on the balls of their feet. This way it cannot be used as as a resting or a transition pose properly.
Do not let your head dangle. Relax it and try to look between your legs or towards your navel. Hold the downward dog pose for 5-10 breaths depending on your capability.
Bend your knees and come back to the first position on your hand and knees while exhaling.
Benefits of the Downward dog pose
- Adho mukha svanasana helps in stretching your calves and hamstrings. It also helps in improving the strength of your legs and your back.
- It strengthens your ankles and provides ample stretch to your back and legs. This helps in removing stiffness from shoulders and back. It is my go to asana along with the Sun Salutation whenever I feel the need to stretch properly.
- It provides your body an inverted position, thereby increasing the blood flow to the brain. This helps in energizing your body.
- The downward dog pose has also been documented to provide practitioners relief from nagging issues like headache and fatigue. It helps in improving memory as well.
- The pose improves the strength of abdominal muscles and improves overall digestion.
Precautions and contraindications
- Downward facing dog should not be practiced by pregnant women as it puts a lot of pressure on abdominal muscles that should be avoided.
- Anyone who suffers from wrist injuries or problems like the Carpal tunnel syndrome should avoid practicing this since it puts the weight of the body on wrists which can be detrimental in such scenarios.
- People with high blood pressure should avoid Adho mukha svanasana.