Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Adhi Mukha Svanasana gets its name from Sanskrit where "Adho" means "Half", "Mukha" means "Face" and "Svan" means "Dog".

Adho Mukha Svanasana t is also called Downward Facing Dog Pose because in the final position the pose resembles that of a dog bending forward and so the name downward facing dog.

Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog Pose clears stiffness in your shoulders, lengthens and straightens your legs, helps to create arches in your feet and strengthen your ankles.

This Asana can also be practiced by beginners as well as it is easy to perform. It should be included in daily Yoga practice. It is really important to get the alignment right in Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog Pose as it will stretch and strengthen all the muscles of the body.

Steps to do Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog Pose

  • To practice Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog Pose stand on Floor or on the yoga mat.
  • Kneel on the yoga mat or floor in such a way that the whole body is supported with hands and knees on the floor. Make sure your knees are in straight line with the hips in this position.
  • Make your palms spread on the yoga mat make sure that the maximum force is exerted with the index finger on the floor. Your forefingers should turn a little parallel.
  • While exhaling, lift your knees far from the floor in such a way that the knees come in line with the thighs and they are not bent.
  • In the beginning, if you face any difficulty in keeping the knees straight, you can keep them a little bent and heels lifted from the floor.
  • Try to raise you hip bones inside and try to draw your legs into the crotch.
  • In this position, make the highest point of the thighs push back and let your heels touch the floor.
  • Try to lift your body far from the ground while keeping your arms and legs straight.
  • Keep your shoulders very firm and open up your chest in this position.
  • Keep your head between your arms and make sure you are looking downwards and your head does not drop in this position.
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog Pose is also a part of Surya Namaskar and it is a very helpful asana to stretch all the muscles of your body.
  • Stay in this position for a few breaths or for a few seconds.
  • Maintain your breath while being in this position.
  • Get back on your knees to release the asana and move your head to look upwards.
  • Practice the same asana for 5-6 times.
  • Relax in Balasana for some time after completing the practice.
  • Breathing Pattern to Follow While Practicing Adho Mukha Savanasana or Downward Facing Dog Pose
  • Inhale, while raising your body off the floor and straightening your arms and legs.
  • Maintain your breath while being in this position.
  • Exhale, while coming back to the original position.

Benefits of Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog Pose

Benefits of Practicing Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog Pose

  • Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog Pose is beneficial in strengthening the whole body specially the arms, legs, shoulders and feet.
  • Regular practice of Adho Mukha Svanasana calms the mind and relieves headache, insomnia and fatigue.
  • Regular practice of Adho Mukha Svanasana tones the muscles of the body and helps in weight loss.
  • Another benefit of Practicing Adho Mukha Svanasana is that it increases the circulation to the brain.
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana lengthens the spine, strengthens the muscles of the chest increasing lung capacity.
  • It rejuvenates and body and makes you feel energized.
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog Pose can also be of benefit in treating lower back ailments like Sciatica.
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana is also beneficial for lung disorders like Asthma.
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana also helps in treating menstrual symptoms like menstrual pain and discomfort.
  • It also helps relieve mild depression and stress.
  • Regular practice of Adho Mukha Svanasana improves digestion and also helps in getting rid of Constipation.
  • It also helps relieve symptoms of Sinusitis.
  • With regular practice you can also get rid of Flat feet.

Precautions and Contraindications While Practicing Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog Pose

  • Do not practice Adho Mukha Svanasana if you are suffering from High Blood Pressure.
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana should not be practiced if you are suffering from Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
  • It should also not be practices if you are suffering from eye ailments like detached eye retina and if you have weak eye capillaries.
  • Do not practice Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog Pose if you have any shoulder injuries like dislocated shoulder or shoulder pain.
  • Adho mukha svanasana should not be practiced if you are suffering from Diarrhea or you have had an episode of diarrhea recently.
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog Pose is an inverted Yoga Pose and Inverted poses are extremely important because they reverse the action of gravity on the body and get the blood and lymph flowing in opposite directions and hence it increases the blood flow to all over body.
  • It stretches the whole body. All the muscles of the body are stretched while practicing Adh Mukha Svanasana.
  • Since the weight of whole body is beard by arms and legs, it helps in strengthening the bones and thus prevent osteoporosis from happening.
  • Because of its inverted nature, blood flow is increased to the top of the body, shoulder stand can help improve brain function and cognition and also help reduce anxiety and depression and calms the whole body.
  • Self-confidence and posture is also improved with regular practice of Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog Pose.
  • Pregnant females should also not practice Adho Mukha Svanasana.
  • Do not force the shape to your body.
  • Do not over exert yourself. Make sure that you do not push yourself to get in to the proper shape of Adho Mukha Svanasana. Keep practicing gradually and you will reach the final position. Go as far as your body allows.
  • Always consult a doctor if you have any doubts or any chronic disease and practice the asana under the guidance of an expert yoga teacher.

Tips to Perform Adho Mukha Svanasana in a Better Way:

  • Always keep your hands shoulder distance apart while practicing Adho Mukha Svanasana. Use the whole surface area of your hands while doing the Asana while the major pressure should be exerted from the index finger on to the floor.
  • Your feet should always be hip distance apart while practicing Adho Mukh Svanasana. While practicing glance back and if you can see your feet turn them a little outward till you don't see them anymore.
  • Activate your arms while practicing Adho Mukha Svanasana by rotating your forearms slightly inwards towards each other and also rotate your upper arms slightly outwards. This sounds difficult to do but it is anatomically possible and it gives you neck more space while practicing the Asana.
  • While practicing the asana, keep your shoulders firm and broaden your upper back. This will provide apace and stability to the upper back.
  • Firm up your core by engaging your belly. You can draw your navel towards your spine. Draw your ribs in and keep your core activated throughout practice.
  • You can also fold your knees while practicing Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog Pose If you have tight Hamstrings as this will help loosen the hamstrings. In this way you will different stretch in spine as well.
  • Firm your outer thighs in such a way that the inner thighs rotate. After practicing this you will easier in moving your hip bones frequently.
  • Start to straighten out your legs while you practice this asana as this will lengthen and stretch the spine and make it more relaxed.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: September 26, 2017

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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