Pose Breakdown: Downward Dog

Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) is one of the most practiced poses in yoga. This particular pose is actually a resting pose, strength building, an unbelievable stretch for your body. Downward Dog is unique to each person, and where you feel the stretch will likely change over time. 

As you become more familiar with Downward Facing Dog, you will reap more of the benefits offered by this yoga pose.

While Downward Facing Dog is typically practiced during Sun Salutations, it remains a favorite for most yogis as an all-over stretch – it just feels good!

This pose stretches: hamstrings, feet, achilles, quads, hip flexors, intercostals, muscles around the spine, shoulders, arms, hands and neck!

 

How to get into the pose

Begin standing at the top side of your mat. Hinge forward from your hips and come into a forward fold. Bend your knees enough so you hands are planted on the floor beside your feet. Step one foot at a time into high plank. 

Lift your hips, and push the floor away with your hands. Arms beside your ears. Your body will be in the shape of an inverted “V”. 

Find comfort in the pose

You can walk out your dog – Alternate bending one knee as you straighten the other. 

Wag the tail – take the bent knee and point it across to the opposite side.

Keeping the shape of your back and arms, come up high on your toes, then release your heels to the floor

Come into Child’s Pose to rest.

Create more challenge in the pose

Come up high on your toes, then bend your knees deeply, keeping the shape of your back and arms. Reach your belly towards your thighs.

Come back to Downward Dog. Plant your hands firmly on the floor, then raise your right leg up behind you – parallel with the floor. 

Go a little deeper – bend the raised leg at the knee, bring your heel toward your bottom, and raise the knee even higher to the sky. Look under your right armpit. Do the other side.

Reverse 3-legged dog: From Downward Dog, lift one hand off the floor. Grab onto the same side leg with your hand, creating a bind with your outstretched arm and your leg. 

 

Downward Facing Dog can be a difficult pose for beginners, as it highlights weakness in the wrists, as well as tightness in the body. There are many things to think about with this pose – which is why it’s a great idea to practice with an experienced, certified yoga teacher.

 

In the absence of a yoga teacher – why not try my FREE Video Series: How to Have a Stronger Yoga Practice