Downward Facing Dog

Etymology

Adho = Downward; Mukha = Face; Svana = Dog

This Asana (= pose) is part of the traditional Sun Saluation. The Sun Salutation is a sequence performed at the beginning of the class to warm up and loosen up the entire body. It is also often used as a transition betweeen the poses.

Benefits

The Downdog is quite a “complete” pose: it stretches and strengthens the upper back (shoulders, shoulderblades), lower back, arms/hands, and legs (hamstrings, calves).

Instructions

  • Knees on the floor right below your hips, arms straight, hands flat on the floor below the shoulders, fingers widely spread anchoring the mat (index fingers parallel to each other), center of your wrists in line with the outer edge of your shoulders;
  • Shoulders go toward the ears to lengthen the sides of the body;
  • Soften/Melt your heart in between the shoulderblades;
  • Exhale, lift your knees off the floor (if your hamstrings are tight, slightly bend the knees and lift your heels prior to straighten them so that you can get a better lower back curve);
  • Curve your lower back and pull your sitting bones up to the ceiling;
  • Belly in.