Downward Dog / Adho Mukha Svanasana

yogaroshan April 25, 2020 11:34 am
A dog and a woman doing the Downward Dog Pose.

Downward Dog Pose comes from the pose of a dog when it stretches or when it feels playful. This pose is basically performed on the 5th and 8th steps of Surya Namaskar / Sun Salutations.

Sanskrit Name and Meaning

  • Name – Adho Mukha Svanasana
  • Pronunciation – Uh-Dho-Moo-Kha-Shwa-Naah-Suh-Nuh
  • Meaning
    • Adho – Downward
    • Mukha – Facing
    • Svana – Dog

Note – There’s no need to strain yourself by doing more than what you can. It will do more harm than good. Seek expert guidance if you’re unsure about anything.

Step-by-Step Instruction

1. Stand on your knees. Lean forward to place the palms on the floor directly below your shoulders so that, the hands and thighs are perpendicular to the ground.

2. Raise you knee up to assume a Plank position.

3. Pike your hips up while lowering your head towards the floor and between the arms. Straighten your knees and elbows.

4. Try to touch the ground with your heels. And, look at your navel. Hold for 5 breaths.

Downward Dog Yoga Pose.
The final position of Downward Dog Yoga Pose.

5. After 5 breaths, drop your buttocks down back to the plank and place your knees on the ground to complete one round.

Tips for Beginners

1. For Step 1 – During the Tabletop position, try to put your hands right under the shoulders while your knees just below the hips.

2. For Step 4 – During the Final Position, spread your fingers try to hold your weight on the fingertips instead of hands so as to decrease wrists injuries.

3. For Step 4 – During the Final Position, stretch your shoulder blades fully.

Modifications and Props

1. For Tight Hamstrings or If you can’t touch the ground with your heels – Slightly bend your knees while keeping your back straight. Or, widen your stance.

2. For Weaker Arms – Place your forearms on the floor instead of palms.

Variation of Downward Dog Yoga Pose.
If your arms are weak, put your forearms down.

3. For Tight Shoulders – Place your hands on either a wall, a chair, or even a pair of blocks.

Counterpose

  1. Cobra Pose / Bhujangasana
  2. Other Backward Bending Poses

Contra-Indications

  1. Refrain from the pose in case of wrist injuries.
  2. Hold the Pose for much shorter for people with High Blood Pressure/Low Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Migraine, Vertigo, and Weak Heart Conditions.
  3. Refrain from the pose in case of back problems such as sciatica, slipped disc, and such.
  4. Refrain from the pose after the 4th month or 12th week of pregnancy. Continue only after 45 days of childbirth.

Benefits

  1. Relaxes the Heart and the Brain
  2. Stabilizes and Strengthen the Shoulders
  3. Tones the Spines especially the Upper Back
  4. Stretches the Hamstrings
  5. Relieves Menstrual and Menopausal Discomfort
  6. Relieves Anxiety
  7. Improves Digestion and Acidity Problems

Adho Mukha Svanasana FAQ

  1. Does Downward Dog tone the arms?

    Since our body weight is highly supported by our arms and legs, this yoga practice tones both the arms and the legs.

  2. How do you correct Downward Dog?

    Well, it depends upon your body. If you have tight hamstrings, widen your stance. If you have weak arms, put your elbow on the ground. You can see other methods to correct it above.

  3. Is Downward Dog bad for you?

    If you overexert yourself, the Downward Dog exercise might backfire. Take it slow and if you’re unsure, seek expert guidance.

  4. Should your feet be flat in Downward Dog?

    Yes, the feet should be flat on the ground but only if you can. Otherwise, slowly work your way up to it.

  5. Should your heels touch the ground in Downward Dog?

    The heels should touch the ground but if you can’t it’s not much of a big deal. Just work your way up to it.

  6. What are the Benefits of Adho Mukha Svanasana / Downward Dog?

    If you practice this yoga pose, you’ll find stability and strength in your shoulders. You’ll have a toned spine and a flexible body. Find other advantages of this pose above.

  7. Why is Downward Facing Dog so hard?

    Downward Facing Dog might be hard for those with an inflexible body. If you have tight hamstrings, it’ll be hard to flatten your feet. If you have tight shoulders, you’ll find it difficult to hold the position for long. But, there’s no need to worry, keep on practicing and it’ll be one of the easiest yoga poses you might be able to perform.

Feel free to tell us or ask us anything about the pose. For more, keep on browsing Yoga Memo.

You Might Also Want to Learn Cat Cow Pose.

References

  • References from Asana Pranayama Mudra Banda by Swami Satyananda Saraswati
  • References from Wikipedia Downward Dog Pose

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