Adho Mukha Svanasana (AH-do MOO-kah shvah-NAHS-anna) is a Sanskrit word having a literal meaning Adhas – “down”, Mukha -“face”, Svana -“dog” and asana – “posture”. So, this downward facing dog posture is an inversion asana often practised as a basic and widely used Yoga posture and a part of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation).

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)

The Downward Facing Dog Pose appears in most styles of yoga as either a strengthening pose, a transition pose, or a resting pose. Interestingly, the downward dog pose is one of the widely recognized Yoga poses and this form of asana is even depicted in film, literature and advertising, titles of novels and television series “Downward Dog.”

Instructions for Adho Mukha Svanasana

How To Do The Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)?

Follow these instructions to do Adho Mukha Svanasana.

  1. Come to the floor with hands slightly forward of your shoulders and knees below the hips. Spread your palms, index fingers parallel or slightly turned out and toes turn under.
  2. With deep exhale, slightly bending your knees lift them away from the floor. Lengthen your tailbone away from your pelvis and slightly towards the pubis. Lift the sitting bones towards the ceiling and from your inner ankles draw the inner legs up in the grain.
  3. Exhaling your breath, push top thigh back and heels stretched onto the floor. Without locking straighten your knees and roll the thighs inward. The front of the pelvis should be narrowed.
  4. Firming your outer arms, press the bases of the index finger on the floor and lift your inner arms from the wrist to the top of the shoulders. Firm your shoulder blades against the back and widen them to draw towards the tailbone. Remember to keep your head between the upper arm.
  5. Stay in this pose for a couple of minutes. And slowly bend your knees to the floor with an exhalation.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
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Precautions for Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Who Should Not Do the Adho Mukha Svanasana?

Although downward-facing appears to be a simple pose to perform there are a number of places where this can go wrong. One of the most common mistakes discovered is people put a lot of pressure on their hands which can further lead to different complications like wrist pain.

So, we should be careful to have evenly distributed weight across both hands and legs. Someone who has wrist problems, arthritis, with weak back muscles need to be careful enough. They can gently bend their knees while still keeping their back straight.  They can even roll a towel under their wrist to make themselves comfortable.

However, this asana should be avoided by people suffering from uncontrolled high blood pressure, weak eye capillaries or any kind of inflammation oh the eyes or ears. It is advisable not to be performed by women during their late pregnancy.

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
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Benefits of Adho Mukha Svanasana

Why Should You Do Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-facing Dog Pose)?

Downward-facing Dog asana is a popular strengthening and stretching exercise that comes up with a variety of benefits for the body.

  • Increases the circulation of blood and lymph system. This helps in nourishment and revitalization of the cells and clearing toxic and waste products out from the body.
  • Regulates the excretory system and maintain internal chemical homeostasis (balance). Even beneficial for constipation and urine obstruction.
  • Apart from the removal of waste from the excretory system, it even helps in eliminating toxins from mouth, eyes, ears and nose.
  • It helps in expanding the chest and strengthen the lungs for better respiratory function.
  • It helps to stretch and decongest the spinal cord and promotes the flow of energy and nervous function between the body and brain.

In Conclusion

The downward dog pose benefits everyone, from the initial beginners to the regular practitioners. It might be difficult to perform during the beginning but trust me, this will be your favourite relaxation pose afterwards.

(Last Updated On: April 25, 2020)

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