Adhomukha Shvanasana – Anatomy and Asana

This pose resembles a dog stretching its spine and legs.It is great for catching up breath and relax. Downward facing dog deeply stretches the erector spinae group of muscles, opens the chest and shoulder activating our triangle shaped trapezius muscle.

Getting into the pose

  1. Lie on the belly, feet together, arms by the side of the body, forehead on the floor
  2. Rest the palms by the side of the chest, elbows close to the ribs.
  3. Plantar flexion of the feet, separated to hip-width apart
  4. Exhaling, raise the torso off the floor, lift the hips up,  feel the tailbone pointing up, straighten the arms and legs.
  5. Keep the head down, with neck and spine in a straight line.
  6. If possible, press the heels down onto the mat.

In this posture, weight are evenly distributed on both hands and feet. Strong arms activating Biceps and triceps Bachii. Palms on the mat with fingers spread open, pushing arms away from our shoulder, growing long through the side body, lengthening the oblique muscles of the core and the intercostals muscles between the ribs. It is like the space between each rib expanding and at the same time lengthening the front ribs. The action of uddiyana bandha, tucking in and up of the naval, flattens the lower belly engaging transversus abdominus with tailbone tuck gently and not forgetting to bring the lower ribs in.

As the hip move up and feet firmly press on the mat, thigh rotated inward, adductor magnus are engaged. Hamstrings consist of biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus are lengthen attached from ischium (sitting bone), all the way through the gastronomeius and soleus muscles of the calves. Flexion of the foot by engaging the tibialis anterior on the front of the shin. 

The benefits of this pose

The spine and latissimus dorsi muscles are strengthened and lengthened. Open up of chest and shoulder, a source of relief for people with mid, lower back pain and stiff shoulder. Enhance blood circulation and hence bring energy back to the body. Improves the functions of the digestive system.

Modifications

  • Ease pressure on your wrists by placing a wedge under the palms .
  • Elevate hands on blocks to release and open the shoulders.