Pose Breakdown: Downward Facing Dog

Introduction to Downward Facing Dog

It’s hard to think of a pose that’s more foundational than downward facing dog.  It’s included multiple times in most yoga classes, and it’s included in one of the most common series of poses (Sun Salutations).  

The sanskrit name for downward facing dog is Adho Mukha Savasana, which translates to down (adho), face (mukha) and dog (svana).  Unlike many poses practiced in modern yoga casses, downward facing dog is fairly old and is referenced in ancient yoga texts. 

Benefits of Downward Facing Dog

Like most poses, downward facing dog has multiple benefits to both the body and mine.  One great thing about downward facing dog is that it both strengthens and stretches the body.  Specifically, it s a wonderful stretch on the calves, and

Downward facing dog is considered an inverted pose, so it carries some added benefits of XYZ

Warnings and Using Caution

Be careful with your downward facing dog if you’re suffering from injuries in your wrist, shoulders or ankles.  

Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) is a foundational yoga pose that offers numerous physical and mental benefits. This inverted posture engages the entire body, promoting strength, flexibility, and relaxation. To approach Downward Facing Dog with precision and mindfulness, it is essential to focus on proper alignment, breath awareness, and gradual progression. This guide will explore key principles and step-by-step instructions to help practitioners of all levels enhance their Downward Dog experience.

Entering Downward Facing Dog

There are various ways to enter the downward facing dog pose, but you can begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position, ensuring your wrists are beneath your shoulders and knees under your hips. Spread your fingers wide, with middle fingers pointing forward. Tuck your toes under, and lift your hips toward the ceiling, straightening your legs until you feel a reasonable stretch.

Fine Tuning Your Pose

Once you’re in downward facing dog, you can work on fine tuning it.  Some of the common recommendations are to:

  • Create a straight line from your wrists through your shoulders to your hips.
  • Reach your heels toward the floor 
  • Maintain a bend in the knees if your hamstrings are tight
  • Rotate your elbows towards the ground
  • Press the back of your thighs towards the wall behind you
  • Spread your fingers and press into your palms
  • Don’t shrug your shoulders up towards your ears
  • Let your head hang towards the ground
  • Your gaze can come to your thighs or up towards your stomach
  • Keep your feet hip distance apart 
  • Spread your weight evenly between your hands and feet
  • Focus on lengthening the spine

After practicing your downward facing dog, you might find Child’s Pose to feel exceptionally good.  It’s frequently suggested as a “counter pose” or a pose to take after downward facing down.

Other Poses That Can Help Your Down Dog

Our yoga practice doesn’t improve in isolation.  Rather, working on multiple poses can have a cumulative effect on the body.  If you’re trying to get stronger or more comfortable in your downward facing dog, the following poses might help:

  • Cat and Cow pose
  • Plank pose
  • Uttanasana – a standing forward bend