Downward Facing Dog


(adho mukha svanasana)

Level: Moderate

Benefits: Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and is reputed to relieve mild depression. Energises the body. Stretches and strengthens arms, shoulders and legs, improves digestion, relieves back pain and relieves some menopausal symptoms.

Cautions: Carpal tunnel syndrome, late term pregnancy, shoulder problems, high blood pressure.

How To

Downward Facing Dog
Fig. 1 Fig. 2
  1. From Child’s Pose stretch your arms forward and rise up onto your hands and knees. Spread your fingers and take the weight all around your palms.
  2. Curl your toes under, engage your abdominal muscles and lift your knees.
  3. Keep your knees bent as you draw your hips back away from your shoulders and draw your shoulders away from your hands. You are making a slanting line from the wrists all the way to the sitting bones. (fig 1)
  4. Broaden your shoulders and nestle your shoulder blades into your ribcage.
  5. Lengthen your spine and keep your arms straight and strong.
  6. Only straighten your legs if you can do so without rounding your back. (fig 2)
  7. When your legs are straight you can try bringing your heels towards the floor.
  8. Stay for 5 – 10 breaths and then rest in Child Pose.
  • Practice the pose with your back towards the wall facing away from the wall and at right angles to it. Stay up on the toes with the heels resting on the wall. This helps to lengthen the legs and support the feet at the same time.
  • For people with lower back pain and heart problems turn and face the wall and from Mountain Pose reach forward so that your hands touch the wall and your back is parallel to the floor and flat. Work on lengthening the back of your legs and your spine. Keep firmness in your abdomen and support your shoulders by flattening your shoulder blades into your back ribs.