Downward dog or Downward facing dog or simply Down dog, (Adho Mukha Svanasana) is a pose inspired by the faithful friend of man, the dog. This inverted but standing pose provides relief in sinusitis and begins from a seated position. With major focus on back, it has been found helpful in menopause and osteoporosis. The pose forms one of the fundamental poses of the Sun salutation series, Surya Namaskara, where it is done twice.
The pose is highly effective in strengthening ankles, toes and knees while stretching the shoulders, back and calves. It lengthens the muscles, thus, increasing the range of motion and flexibility. It is also have been found very useful for women with menstrual problems and people with constant complain of indigestion.
Getting in the pose
What you need: Room with fresh air (if you’re doing it inside, otherwise do it in open area), and you.
Difficulty Level: Beginner
Initial Position: Palms and feet on the floor. Fingers spread out like star and knees bent directly below hips. Yes, it begins as a seated pose.
Drishti or Gaze: While performing this pose, concentrate your gaze in between your toes.
- While you get into the starting position, inhale deep and prepare you mind and body to push your hips towards the ceiling.
- Gently lift your hips upwards, unbending the knees and balancing weight on palms and sole. Slowly exhale as you do that.
- Try to keep your head held in a position and don’t let it hang between your arms.
- Hold the position for 15-30 seconds as a beginner. Later you must hold it even longer, say a minute or more. Breathe in once.
- Gently exhale and revert to the starting position. Do it twice in a practice along with other poses.
If you feel exerted, rest in Child’s pose.
- Iyengar yoga: Here, the heels are supported by tiny bolsters initially to make one get used to the pose. In extreme cases, it also performed being bent over a chair.
- Downward dog split is an advanced version of this same pose, where one leg is lifted in air while balancing weight on two arms and one leg.
- Aerial Yoga: This pose is performed here while suspended from a hammock.
- To further strengthen your lower body, one can use resistance bands while trying to attempt downward dog split.
- Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
- Head to knee pose or Staff pose (Paschimottanasana)
Beginners often find straightening knees tough and heels lifted upwards, when they should be placed firmly on the mat. They are advised to consider the Iyengar variation of this pose and later get into the full pose without the usage of any kind of props.
- This is a Vinyasa yoga pose and hence, movements must be synchronized with the breath. That way, you strengthen your internal as well as external system simultaneously.
- People with carpel tunnel syndrome should not consider this pose.
- Pregnant women and those with issues of high blood pressure are strictly advised against down ward dog or any kind of inverted yoga poses.
- Though this pose is used as a warm up pose for the advanced versions, it would be helpful if you shook your body a bit for 5 minutes before getting into this pose. Warm up first!
- If your hands or wrists hurt due to friction from the mat, place a soft towel to act as cushion.
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