Downward Facing Dog Pose
by Jennifer Arnold

adho = downward
mukha = facing
svana = dog
asana = pose

1.Begin on your hands and knees. Press your buttocks as far back onto your heels as you comfortably can. Stretch the arms forward. Let your hands be shoulders distance apart and your fingers spread wide, index fingers parallel with each other.

2. Leaving your hands where they are, come back to all fours. Curl your toes under and with an exhalation, lift your sit bones up and back. Your knees will come off the ground and your legs will straighten.

3. Keep your palms grounded as you press back through your legs. Find length in your spine and let your neck relax. Hold for 3 – 5 breaths.

4. Lower your knees to the ground, press your buttocks back towards your heels, relax your shoulders and let your head become heavy; rest here for several breaths. If comfortable re-approach once or twice more.

Often times there is roundedness in the back when doing this pose. There are many reasons for this; tight hamstrings, hips, low back troubles….If you feel roundedness in your spine, take your hands and feet a bit wider and let your knees softly bend as you move your belly toward your thighs. This will create more length in the spine and openness in the shoulders.

Adho Mukha Svanasana stretches and opens the legs, back, and shoulders; strengthens the arms; restores energy; provides traction for the spine and brings some of the benefits of inversions including increased blood supply to the brain, stimulation of abdominal organs, and brings a general sense of relaxation. As you practice, notice how you feel before, during, and after this pose. Can you begin to experience the great benefits of this asana?

Senior Iyengar teacher, Bobby Clennell writes, “If you have time to practice only one pose, make it Adho Mukha Svanasana.”