When it comes to a few of the most recognized yogic asanas, Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), also known as Adho Mukha Svanasana, is a quite popular standing yoga pose which is a bit of inversion which builds both the strength and flexibility of the body while stretching the entire body.
It is named after the position of a dog which naturally stretches its entire body.
Downward-Facing Dog, which is also known as Downward Dog or Down Dog, is a significant and essential part of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) and it is often practiced during yoga class, many times.
It can also be used as one of the transitional poses, a resting posture as well as a strength builder.
For every practitioner, Downward Dog is the most subtle and perfect posture to observe as well as correct the imbalances of the body.
For a few people, this pose is more about stretching as well as opening while for some people it is about learning to stabilize their joints through the muscular effort. For everyone, this pose uses the entire strength of the arms as well as legs to fully as well as evenly stretch the spine.
It also stretches the hamstrings as well as hips along with calves and also strengthens the quadriceps and ankles.
It also opens up the chest as well as the shoulder and also helps in toning the arms and the abdominals.
It even tones the hands as well as feet which prepares the body for standing poses along with arm balances.
Mentioned below are the steps for doing the Downward-Facing Dog Pose.
Steps to do Adho Mukha Svanasana
First, you need to come to the mat with your hands and knees. Now set the knees directly below the hips and the hands perfectly and slightly placed forward of the shoulders. Now, spread the palms along with the index fingers parallel or even slightly turned out, as per your comfort, along with this, turn your toes under.
Now you need to exhale and then lift the knees away from the floor. In the beginning, the knees can be kept slightly bend and the heels properly lifted away from the floor. Now lengthen the tailbone away from the pelvis’s back and then press it slightly toward the pubis of your body. Against this resistance, start lifting the sitting bones towards the direction of the ceiling and also from inner ankles, draw the inner legs up towards the groin region.
Now perform exhalation and push the top thighs back as well as stretch the heels onto or you can stretch toward the floor. Now straighten the knees but make sure that they are not locked. Firm the outer thighs and then roll your upper thighs a little bit inwards. Now, narrow the pelvis’s front.
Now you need to firm your outer arms and then press the index fingers’ bases, actively into the surface of the floor. From these two particular points, lift along the inner arms from your wrists to the shoulders’ top. Now you need to firm your shoulder blades against the back and then go on widening them and also draw them toward the tailbone of your body. Keep your head between the upper arms. Make sure that you don’t let it hang.
Stay on this pose from 2 to 4 minutes and then bend the knees to the floor while exhaling and then rest in the Child’s pose. Downward Facing Dog is among the poses in the Sun Salutation sequence. It is an excellent yoga asana on its own.
Benefits of Adho Mukha Svanasana
Talking about the benefits of Adho Mukha Svanasana, there are many. A few of them are listed below:
- It energizes and rejuvenates your body.
- It deeply stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, spine and hands.
- It also builds strength in the arms, shoulders as well as legs.
- Since your heart is a bit higher than the head in this particular pose, it is considered a little bit inversion which is less strenuous than the other inversions like Headstand. It holds all the inherent benefits of inversions.
- It helps in providing relief from headaches, and fatigue.
- It rejuvenates the mind and helps in insomnia, and for people suffering from mild depression, this yoga pose can be highly beneficial.
- The blood flow to the brain also helps in calming the nervous system which in turn improves the memory, relieves stress as well as increases concentration.
- By regularly practising this pose, it can improve your digestion and provide relief from back pain and also prevent osteoporosis.
- It is also popular for being therapeutic for asthma, sinusitis, as well as flat feet.
- For women, it is therapeutic for the symptoms of menopause.
Important Considerations regarding Adho Mukha Svanasana
The two key movements of this yoga are the common one which are lifting the arms overhead, and the legs stretched out at a right angle to the torso. But when these movements are combined, and you try to hold them upside down against the gravitational pull, they will get harder. The pose also becomes the laboratory in your body where you can easily observe patterns of your body. You can find out where you are weak and strong, where you are tight or flexible. Practice this yoga consciously, and Downward Facing Dog can easily train you to balance both the strength as well as flexibility in the whole body. In order to start, try to focus on the upper part of the body. In case the shoulders are tight, your key work is to open up the chest and stretch through the armpits and also straighten the arms. In case you are already flexible there, resist the temptation you might have to press the chest down toward the floor in order to experience more stretch. This can lead to compression of the spine and the shoulders’ back. Rather than that, engage the arms as well as upper abdominals, and align the upper back lengthen the spine and also create an even as well as diagonal line from the wrists up to the sitting bones.
Next, you need to check in with the lower body. In case the hamstrings are too tight, they might pull the hips down and force the back to round. In this particular base, practice with the knees being actively bent at first instance. In case you already have open hamstrings, then it will be quite easy for you to lift the hips toward the direction of the ceiling. Don’t try to exaggerate this particular movement or overarch the lower back. Rather than that, firm the legs and lower abdominals in order to lengthen the spine.
As you keep practising this pose over a significant time period, you can easily develop strong muscles which you never thought of, and you can also begin to stretch with the same deftness of an acrobat. Whatever the qualities of your body are, if you are working this pose with both energy as well as awareness, the inner self will be self-aligned, and it will also shine through your body’s power and grace.
Precautions of Downward-Facing Dog
- While this pose is quite beneficial, there are certain precautions that you should take, and we would like to mention them to you. Some of them are:
- In case you have some issues with the wrists, you should then perform this posture with caution. It is better to try to create a little bit of angle between the floor and the lower arms. Push into the hands and then spread the fingers. You need to ensure that the knuckle of the first finger presses down firmly.
- In case you are shifting too much weight into the hands and the arms, shift the weight back into the hips to avoid injury to arms and hands.
- If you feel that this pose is getting compromised by your hamstrings which are tight such that you are losing the back stretch, then it is advised that you bend your knees.
- In case of hypermobility in the joins such as elbows and shoulders, try to create a straight line from the arms to hips and draw the elbows in. You can also use a strap wrapped around your upper arms in order to avoid elbow joint hinging.
- It is strictly said that you shouldn’t practice Downward-Facing Dog in case you have severe and serious carpal tunnel syndrome. It is also not advised for women having a late-term pregnancy. It needs to be avoided by those who have an injury to the arms, back or the shoulders. People with high blood pressure, inner ear or eye infections shouldn’t do this pose. Always work in the range of your abilities and limit. In case you have any medical concerns, you should consult a doctor before practicing this yoga.
Various Positions of Downward-Facing Dog
- In order to increase the stretch, you can also lift up onto the feet’s balls, pulling the hips higher and drawing the pelvis in. Then you need to let the hip drop back to the floor while you maintain the deeper movement.
- For more focus on the arms, you can also loop a belt around the arms, slightly above the elbows and press against that strap. Same can be done for the legs. Pace a belt on the upper legs above the knees and then work on active legs while drawing thighs outwards.
Few Essential Tips for Downward-Facing Dog
- When this yoga is done correctly, it can greatly benefit the entire body. You need to keep the following tips in mind while you are practicing this pose:
- In case you are flexible, never let the rib cage sink towards the floor. Make sure to draw the lower limbs in and also maintain a flat back.
- Your heels shouldn’t be touching the ground. In case they do, avoid walking the feet closer to the hands for this particular purpose. Maintain the spine length and lift the pelvis
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