Yoga Pose: Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)

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Yoga Pose: Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)
by Kerrie Cason
Downward Facing Dog Yoga Pose
Adho-Mukha = Face Downward
Svana = A Dog
Asana = Posture

Description:

Come onto your hands and knees; your wrists should be in line with your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips. Breathe in, and with your exhale, press into your palms as you tuck your toes and extend back with your heels. Your hips will draw up and back, thereby elongating the spine.

At first, keep a slight bend in the knees and then slowly straighten your legs. If you experience pain in your hamstrings or lower back, then keep the knees bent. Firm your outer thighs as you rotate your inner thighs slightly back. Draw your pelvis up and away from the top of your thighs.

Make sure your thumb and index finger press firmly into the ground, and your palms are flat as you lift your forearms up off your wrists. The hands should be shoulder-width apart, unless you have tighter shoulders. If this is the case, then your hands can be a little wider. Draw your forearms in towards one another.

Check to see that your feet are hips-distance apart, and your second toe is in line with the back of your heel. Remember to breathe. Your heels are pressing down as the knees lift up. If your heels don’t touch the floor, don’t worry. Remember your breath in Yoga.

The main point of doing Adho Mukha Svanasana is to lengthen the spine using the legs. The heels might reach the floor, but only after consistent practice over a long period of time.

Soften your front ribs as you draw your tailbone down towards the heels. Extend evenly through all four sides of the waist as your shoulder blades slide onto the back. Lengthen your neck so it’s even with your spine. Don’t collapse into the neck with your shoulders. Keep drawing the muscles down away from your ears.

By drawing the forearms in towards one another, you are enabling your upper, inner arms to rotate forward. This will help you from putting too much pressure on the upper body. Inhale and press down with your hands. Exhale as you extend back with your legs. Continue to do this using the breath. Relax the forehead and jaw.

When you are ready, gently come down onto your knees using an exhale, and sit back onto your heels relaxing in Child’s Pose.

Benefits:

– Stretches the hamstrings and calf muscles
– Improves Digestion
– Increases range of motion in the shoulders
– Strengthens the upper body
– Elongates the spine
– Assists in fatigue
– Helps relieve symptoms of menopause
– Can be used as a restorative pose

Risks:

– Wrists, shoulders, low back; hamstrings and neck issues may be aggravated by this posture.

Contraindications: (Risks that make this posture inadvisable)

Glaucoma
Dislocated shoulder
– History of stroke
– Reflux: Hiatal Hernia
High blood pressure or low blood pressure

Yoga Pose Instruction for Green Eggs and Planet, by Kerrie Cason
Uttanasana (Intense Standing Forward Fold)
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Virasana (Hero Pose)
Balasana (Child’s Pose)
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)

Copyright 2007-10 Matty Byloos, Kerrie Cason

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