Downward-facing dog pose

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Categories:
Forward bend, Strength, Shoulder opener

The downward-facing dog pose stretches and strengthens the wrists, arms, shoulders, abdomen, hips and legs.

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Step by step explanation

The downward-facing dog pose can be done by

  1. Start by coming on to your hands and knees, spreading your fingers and toes apart and grounding through the palms of your hands. Make sure your knees are aligned with the hips and your arms with your shoulders.
  2. Now tuck your toes under and extend your hips up and back, as you reach the crown of your head towards the ground. Keep grounding through your index finger and thumb.
  3. You can keep your knees slightly bent, to begin with, as you lengthen your spine by pushing your hips to the ceiling. Straighten your legs if it feels comfortable and allow your heels to drop down towards the ground.
  4. Keep pressing the palms of your hands into the ground and from there lift up towards your shoulders and hips. Keep opening and lengthening the space in the front of your shoulders. Gaze back towards your navel, keeping the chin tucked into the chest.
  5. Stay in the pose for at least five long and deep breaths.
  6. Once you are ready to come out, gently lower your knees down to the ground and come back to your hands and knees.

Cautions

Read the following cautions to stay safe

  • Because this exercise can be hard on the wrists, it is of importance to not perform this pose or modify it, when you have painful or weak wrists. You can modify the position and make it easier on your wrists by coming onto your forearms or performing it with a cushion underneath the palms of your hands.
  • Do not perform this position when you are in late-term pregnancy
  • If you are concerned about anything of this pose, please contact your physician on whether this practice is good for you.

Making the pose easier

  • Keeping the knees comfortably bent is a great way to make this pose easier. Also, do not worry too much if the heels do not touch the floor.
  • You could also start by practicing against a wall. Place both hands against the wall and keep a slight bend in the knees. Now push your torso through the arms, with a straight spine, and contract the shoulder blades. This exercise resembles the standing forward bend pose but is an easier variation.
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Suggested preparation poses

Suggested follow-up poses