Downward Dog - Adho Mukha Svanasana

Downward Facing Dog (often called Downward Dog or "Downdog") is a pose that is quite popular in yoga classes. It is often held for several breaths. But it can be difficult for a beginner to hold the pose for several breaths. If this is the case for you, keep practicing, because this posture has great benefits.

The benefits of this posture will get you hooked. It can bring you a very fulfilling feeling in your whole body and mind. So it should not be left aside.

Downward dog is very calming and, due to the upper half of the body being inverted, it helps the flow of the blood. As the whole back side of the body is stretched, the legs, arms and core muscles work at holding your position. Downdog is wonderful for tension release.

Downward Facing Dog

  • Start on the floor, on your hands and knees.

  • Place your knees right under your hips and your hands a couple inches in front of your shoulders, shoulders width apart.

  • Spread the fingers, with the middle finger pointing straight in front of you.

  • Inhale, expanding the rib cage toward the ceiling.

  • Posture tip

    Lengthen your spine. To do that, remember to lift the hips up and press the hands and feet away from your hips.

  • On your exhale, tuck your toes under and lift your knees off the floor, extending your legs.

  • Try forming a straight line with your arms and back. Do not sag down your lumbar area.

  • Press your sitting bones up toward the ceiling and press your hands and heels down. If you have tight hamstrings and calves, it is ok to have your knees bent.

  • Press your inner thighs back.

  • Press your shoulders away from your ears and relax your head and neck.

Variation 1 - Lift one leg up

Lift one leg off the floor as high as you can.

Downward Facing Dog

Variation 2 - Open the hip

Lift one leg off the floor and bent the knee of that leg, lowering your foot behind you. Open up your hip to the side. Try keeping your shoulders square with the floor.

Downward Facing Dog

Variation 3 - Tuck the knee in

This variation of Downward Dog will work on your abdominal muscles. Tuck one knee in, as well as your chin, as you round up your spine. Press your back toward the ceiling, as you contract your abdominal muscles to tuck your leg further in.

Downward Facing Dog

Variation 4 - Get on the toes

Get on your toes. This will help you press the hips toward the ceiling. Try reaching up as far as you can with your hips and then lower the heels down to the floor.

Downward Facing Dog

Or Walk the Dog: lift the heels up alternately, pressing down the opposite heel. This is great to help warm-up the back of your legs.

Downward Facing Dog

Main Target / Benefits
  • Stretches the calves, hamstrings, glutes and back muscles.

  • Strengthens the arms, shoulders and core muscles.

  • Opens the shoulders and chest.

  • Calms the mind and increases blood flow.

Caution / Recommendation
  • Keep a micro bend in the knees to protect them.

  • Press the fingers down to the floor. This will remove some weight off your wrists to protect them.