Looks can be deceiving

As the title of the post suggests, I’m going to talk about a particular asana that looks deceptively easy but it is actually rather difficult when it comes to mastering it. This asana is none other than “Adho mukha svanasana” – also known as downward-facing dog.

This was the first few asanas that I learned when I first picked up yoga two years ago. Prior to that, I did see it being done and I thought to myself: Hey, this looks quite simple and chill. Later on, when I was doing, I found out that I WAS SO WRONG. 

I remembered going into the pose and I was like omg my back is not straight/I can’t ground my heels to the mat/why am I struggling to maintain this position. When I looked around, I saw some people facing the same problems as me and there were some who were totally chilling in that pose. And well, yoga is all about practice right? So after doing yoga for quite some time, I can feel my down dog improving but somehow, it just doesn’t feel right to me. There were times when teachers will come and adjust my hips or push on my back to get me “deeper” into the pose. 

When I came to Tirisula, I finally found out how the proper alignment and where my mistakes were. For example, I didn’t know that you have to shift your weight more to the legs – which also explains why I struggle to hold it for a long time in the past. [Nope, this is not a sponsored post but I’m really thankful that I found out the proper alignment for this pose here!]

To share what I have learned about the alignments, here are some tips to doing a good adho mukha svanasana:

  • Palms and feet are firmly grounded (i.e. straight line from palms to shoulders; straight line from hips to heels)
  • Seat bone should be pointing up as much as possible (i.e. tilting the pelvis forward – “anterior pelvic tilt”)
  • Eyes of elbows face each other
  • Neck and shoulder blades remain neutral (no tension)
  • Squeeze the quads and engage the hip flexors (i.e. helps to stabilise the pose)
  • Do not overextend the elbows (i.e. engage your muscles to hold your arms)

This asana is supposed to be a resting asana and hence it does bring about some benefits such as:

  • Removes fatigue and brings energy back to the body
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Improves digestion
  • Activates the muladhara chakra which is our basic chakra and it is important to settle it before we work on other chakras

Every asana should be steady, stable and motionless (sthirsa sukham asanam) and this pose is no exception. I wouldn’t say that I have the best down dog but I have definitely improved after taking note of my alignments and experiencing the adjustments made by the masters and my peers. Yoga is a lot about knowing your own body and what you can do/what you can improve on. Once you get the feel of how a certain asana should be like, you just have to practise and practise. I’m getting there, slowly but surely. 🙂