One of the most recognized yoga poses in yoga asana practise, Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog). This is also the first Sanskrit name I learnt in yoga. The pose, is a standing pose and mild inversion that builds strength while stretching the whole body. Adho Mukha Svanasana is an essential component of Surya Namarkar (Sun Salutations) and is often done many times during a yoga class. It can be used as a transitional pose, a resting pose, and a strength-builder. Adho Mukha Svanasana strengthens and rejuvenates the entire body. It deeply stretches the hamstrings, shoulders, calves, arches, hands, and spine while building strength in your arms, shoulders, and legs. Regular practice of this pose can improve digestion, relieve back pain, and help prevent osteoporosis.
Getting into Adho Mukha Svanasana:
Start on all fours with your knees directly underneath your hip and your hands directly underneath your shoulders. The palms are firmly grounded onto the mat and your fingers are spread.
Pull your stomach in. Tuck your toes underneath you. Lift your knees away from the floor, lengthen your spine backwards and shoot your tailbone up towards the sky as you straighten out your legs. Push the top of your thighs back and stretch your heels towards the floor.
Form the shoulder blades onto the back, release the neck and extend your heart towards your thighs. Hold the pose for 5 inhales and exhales and then rest in child’s pose as counter pose.
For beginners, Adho Mukha Svanasana can be challenging initially, but over time, as one’s practice advances, it often turns into a relaxation or resting pose between other, more strenuous postures. Speaking from my own experience, when I started practising yoga, I found the pose is an exhausting pose as it hurt my hamstrings, Achilles tendon (tendon behind ankle) and my wrists. As times past with more practise, I begin to find my balance and understand my body in this pose, and begin to enjoy it as a resting posture. I find when I’m doing my practice, that when I reach Adho Mukha Svanasana I can find those moments of peace. I have time to check in with my breath, listen to my body and relax.