Adho Muka Svanasana
Downward Facing Dog, or Adho Muka Svanasana in Sanskrit, is argumentatively one of Yogas most recognized and most important postures.
In addition to it’s popularity, this pose also offers many physical and mental benefits. It creates space all throughout the body, especially in the shoulders, pelvis and legs. Taking deep breaths in downward facing dog can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. It also can help to improve digestion, alleviate back pain and energize the body.
This pose is great for women because it relieves symptoms of menopause and prevents osteoporosis, which is common in women over the age of 30.
The important thing to remember when practicing your down dog is to make sure that you have a good foundation. I always like to get into plank, with the shoulders in line with the wrists , core and legs engaged, to gauge the length of what my down dog should be.
How to get into the pose:
Start in a neutral tabletop position, on hands and knees. Make sure that your shoulders are in line with your wrists and hips in line with your knees. You may place a blanket under your knees if you have an injury.
Place the palms flat on your mat with your finger tips spread wide and hands shoulder width apart.
Start to lift the pelvis to the ceiling and send the hips back on the exhale. While doing so, make sure to engage your core, bringing the navel into the spine. As you continue to send the hips back, the legs will start to extend. Beginners will want to get their heels to touch the ground, but this is not necessary. The most important thing is to have a slight bend in the knees and press down through the heels. This will help to protect the hamstrings and create space in the pelvic region.
Continue to focus on extending the lengths of your inhales and exhales as you relax in your downward facing dog. Let the neck relax and send your gaze towards the navel. Check your feet. Are they hips distance apart? Check your shoulders. Let them melt down the back to release tension in the wrists. Push firmly into the hands to send the chest back.
Take about 5 full breaths in this posture, focusing on sending your weight back into the hips, keeping the knees slightly bent and belly engaged. Feel strong in the arms and space throughout the body. Enjoy this blissful and empowering posture!
You can get out of the pose by flowing through your vinyasa or coming into child’s pose for rest.
For more information on how to get the full benefit out of Adho Muka Svanasana, read this article via YogaJournal.