Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Yoga can change the way you look at your life. Yoga can be a guiding factor in your life not only emotionally but physically too. For those who are interested in Yoga, get the fact clear that yoga is just like a grand monument which cannot be built in a day. It is a gradual process towards spiritual enlightenment and realizing yourself. With various postures (asanas), you will recognize slowly what yoga is all about and how it has been benefiting you. Adho mukha svanasana is one such posture that can help you in a great way. Read on to know all about it.


What does yoga poses do to the body?

Different asanas can not only make your body flexible but will also help the internal organs function correctly without any difficulty.

Let’s take for instance, the sitting postures. The sitting poses will give an inner peace and calm like Master Shifu. 😉 It will promote deep breaths. The cross legged seated postures can increase the flexibility of hips and lower back which will strengthen the back muscles.

The standing poses in Yoga such as Mountain Pose (Parvatasana) is one of the important standing poses and has good benefits. For starters, it gives proper alignment to your feet and body not to mention balancing the whole body correctly. If you follow the right instructions, standing postures can actually improve your body posture.

Bends, balances and twists arrive with their own degree of benefits that will be explained later in detail.

Adho mukha svanasana pronunciation and meaning

Adho mukha svanasana is a Sanskrit name that is pronounced as AH-doh MOO-kah shvah-NAHS-anna.

The meaning of Adho mukha svanasana is downward facing dog.

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  • Adho = downward
  • mukha = face
  • svana = dog

Adho mukha svanasana yoga pose – Introduction

The Adho mukha svanasana posture is translated as a dog bending forward. The best part of this pose is even a beginner can practice this pose and given the benefits of this posture, it must be adopted as a part of daily yoga.

Adho mukha svanasana pose – Benefits

Just like every other pose in Yoga, adho mukha svanasana too has many benefits. Let’s see how Adho mukha svanasana pose benefits your body.

  • Calms your brain and mind thereby relieving you of stress and mild depression, if any
  • Triggers the body with unbeatable energy
  • Helps the body to take that extra mile by stretching the shoulders, hands, arches, hamstrings etc.
  • Strengthens the legs, arms, shoulders, feet of your body
  • Can benefit women by alleviating the symptoms of menopause
  • Menstrual discomfort can be relieved when done with the head supported
  • Can inhibit formation of osteoporosis
  • Fixes any issues with digestive tract and improves the digestion
  • No more headache, sleeplessness, lethargy or spinal pain
  • Benefits people with blood pressure, breathing problem such as asthma, sciatica, sinusitis etc.
  • Improves blood and oxygen supply to the brain

How to perform Adho mukha svanasana

  • Come on the floor using hands and your knees. Now form a table so that the back forms the top of a table with your hands/feet look like table legs.
  • While you exhale make sure to lift the hips up and straighten the knees and elbows so as to to layout an inverted V-shape using the body.
  • Make sure that the hands are shoulder width apart and the feet are hip width apart so to look parallel from each other. The toes must look straight ahead.
  • Press the hands to the ground and widen the shoulder blades. The neck should be extended to touch the ears to the inner arms.
  • Hold the downward pose and look at the navel. Now take long and deep breaths.
  • Exhale. Now bend the knees and return back to original table pose. Relax.

Adho mukha svanasana modifications

You can ease pressure on your wrists by performing the posture using your elbows. You can even place a wedge under your palms for better comfort.

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If you feel the pressure is too strong to withhold, you can elevate your hands by placing them on blocks or on seat of a chair. With gradual use, you can remove the support and perform on the floor.

Adho mukha svanasana variations

Many people find it difficult to perform Adho mukha svanasana as it requires a lot of strain on wrists especially for those whose arms and shoulders are not strong enough to hold the entire body for prolonged period. So keeping them in mind here are four different options for you.

  • Option 1 – Maintaining Adho mukha svanasana bring the left foot to the center and extend the right leg up. Make sure to keep the hips parallel and even. Now pressing through the ball of the foot hold the position for three rounds of breathing and then (a) either complete the posture using right leg and switch to left side or (b) change the side and end with a counter pose.
  • Option 2 – Maintain the Adho mukha svanasana and bring your right leg up again. Now bend the knee and life the thigh this time giving good extension via the quadricep. End with option (a) or (b) as above.
  • Option 3 – From Adho mukha svanasana, life the right leg up. Bend the knee and lift the thigh as high as you can. You can try to bring the right knee above the right hip. Now take the lower leg across the body to the left side and look under your right armpit. This will give you a good stretching feeling to the body. You can finish with A or B.
  • Option 4 – now that the body is quite warm, it is easily susceptible to twist and flexibility. So from Adho mukha svanasana you can take left hand to the right ankle or calf. Now release and repeat the process for next side.

Complete it with surya namaskara or with a counter posture.

Adho mukha svanasana warnings and contradictions

If you suffering from high blood pressure, carpel tunnel syndrome, dislocated shoulder, diarrhea etc. avoid doing this asana. If you are pregnant do not do this pose late-term. If you are having headache, you can support your head by using a block or bolster.

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Adho Mukha Svanasana, Downword-Facing Dog (Muladara Chakra)
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