Adho Mukha Svanasana

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)

This is ubiquitous asana familiar to every yogis and non-yogis. It is the pose that students will encounter in every single yoga class. I used to think this was like a resting pose to me, as I was often told in classes especially flow classes, to stay in downward facing dog to catch a few breaths. Yet despite the familiarity, there were a lot of misalignments and misconceptions about the pose. Like what our tirisula teachers say, every asana pose is an active one – every part of the body is engaged. Here, I’d like to highlight a couple of alignments & muscle engagement which I had to retrain and drill in me since the start of the course.

1. Externally rotate your shoulders & draw your shoulders away from the ears. Do not hunch your shoulders.

2. The distance between your hands and feet should be neither too near nor too far. Find a suitable distance where the resultant angle between your torso and legs is 90 degrees.

3. Dristhi (gaze) is towards naval (if it is possible for you), if not, look at your toes.

4. The weight should be constantly drawn towards the back of the body. If your hands are sliding forward on your mat, chances are, the weight distribution is wrong and hence, you need to actively lengthen your tailbone and lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling.

5. With each exhalation, press the heels down to the ground. Do not lock your nees.

6. The bulk of the weight on the hand should be at the fleshy part of the saddle join between the thumb and index finger.

7. Watch out for hyperextension of the elbow. If you have natural inclination to hyperextend & lock the elbows, make sure you microbend your elbows.

8. Commit to Ujayi breathing while in this pose and stay focused.

 

* This is also an inversion pose. So don’t fret if you can’t get into your headstand yet, you can still reap the benefits of an inversion by staying in downward facing dog.

* Progressively hold in this pose for longer duration, maybe 15min and feel your shoulders rejoice.

 

Hui Lian