By Sangeetha Saran
Of all the various stances of Yoga, the Downward-Facing Dog, or the Adho Mukha Svanasana, is one of the most well-known and for good reason! Downward Dog offers numerous health benefits, and is fairly simple to learn, which makes it a favorite Yoga pose amongst beginners, and advanced practitioners.
How Is Adho Mukha Svanasana Done?
With your mat, lie on the ground face down with your hands placed under your shoulder joints and your knees tucked under your hips; tops of toes should be touching the ground with the soles facing the ceiling.
Inhale deeply, then as you exhale, push your hands and feet (flip the soles down on the mat) into the mat, while slightly bending your knees to allow your torso to raise slightly above the ground. Concentrate on the lengthening of the spine, which should be stretched in a fluid motion; it is essential this is done slowly and correctly to prevent injury.
Inhale deeply, then exhale, pushing into the ground more with your hands and feet (your feet might not be completely flat on the ground) to allow yourself to form an upside-down “V” with your buttocks being the vertex. The hands should be completely straight.
Be sure to look at the mat as this elongates the spine further to include your neck. Inhale and exhale deeply and feel the stretching of the spine especially in the lower back. When finished, exhale and return to a resting position such as the Child’s Pose to act as a counter stretch.
Warnings for Adho Mukha Svanasana
Fortunately, the Downward-Facing Dog stance is simpler than the majority of Yoga stances. However, it is important not to rush into the pose as the sudden shift of movement can be bad for the back. Also, make sure to focus on breathing so that progression is done during exhales. Inhaling causes the chest to expand and if the spine is elongating at the same time, it can create extra pressure in the back muscles.
Benefits of Adho Mukha Svanasana
This stance has numerous benefits to the mind and body, which include:
- Promotes relaxation of the muscles that run along the entire spine, delivers more oxygen to the brain and energizes the body as a whole.
- Increases circulation in the feet, hands and knees as well as other areas prone to arthritis.
- Opens the sinuses and regulates digestion.
- Strengthens the muscles of the arms and legs.
- Releases concentrated points of tension in the back, reducing sensitive areas and knots.
- Stretches the muscles of the calves and hamstrings.
© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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