Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog Pose

Adho Mukha Svanasana or the downward facing dog pose stretches and straightens the spine. In Sanskrit, Adho means down, Mukha means face and Svana means a dog. This asana or pose has been created by observing dogs. They perform this several times in a day. If you observe your pet dog, you will see how he does this to stretch and relax his spine. Adho Mukha Svanasana is an easy pose that can be done by most practitioners.


How to do Adho Mukha Svanasana?

  1. Start with the kneeling position and place your palms on the floor in front of you.
  2. Keep the palms spread out on the mat. The knees should be preferably behind the tail bone to get a good stretch in the final downward facing dog pose.
  3. Slowly raise your knees and straighten it out. At this point the legs are straight and the weight of the body is supported by the two palms and the feet.
  4. Stretch your heels and the thigh muscles while straightening the legs.
  5. Tuck your belly in and push the chest slightly towards the floor while straightening the spine.
  6. Make sure the heels are touching the floor. This gives a good stretch to the hamstring muscles. If your heels don’t touch the floor in the initial stages, don’t worry. You will definitely be able to do it after few practice sessions.
  7. Place your head between the inner-side of the upper arms and look down towards the floor. This is the final pose. Breathe normally in this position. Maintain the position for as long as you are comfortable.
  8. To release the pose, come back to the kneeling position and relax your back and arms.
  9. Bend forward and assume Balasana or the child’s pose where you are resting on the floor with the arms spread out in front of you. Do this resting pose after performing Adho Mukha Svanasana. Adho Mukha Svanasana is an inverted pose and increases the blood flow to the head region. Balasana is performed to normalize and redistribute the blood in the body.


Benefits of Adho Mukha Svanasana

  1. Adho Mukha Svanasana is an inverted pose. It reverses the flow of blood to the head and upper chest region. It nourishes the brain with ample blood supply and can relieve headaches and migraine. It can improve cognition and other brain functions.
  2. It gives a good stretch to the spine and the leg muscles. It can relieve pain in upper and lower back.
  3. It helps to loosen the hamstring muscles for more flexibility. Make sure the heels touch the floor during the practice. It stretches the hamstring muscles.
  4. Adho Mukha Svanasana strengthens the arms and the shoulders.
  5. It can relieve anxiety and depression. It is a good relaxation pose.
  6. It relieves fatigue and relaxes the whole body.
  7. It creates a sense of well-being and boosts confidence.
  8. Adho Mukha Svanasana is one of the easiest of the inverted poses. Those who cannot perform the harder inverted pose like the head stand and the shoulder stand can get similar benefits from this simple inverted asanas.