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Downward Facing Dog

December 20, 2023
December 20, 2023 Jennifer Doran

Downward Facing Dog

Perhaps the most widely recognized yoga posture, Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose) is equal parts strengthening and stretching. Although it’s a common pose, it’s not an easy one.

Benefits: Down Dog Pose strengthens your wrists, arms, and shoulders; it stretches your wrists, hamstrings, and back. Because the posture lengthens your spine, it counteracts the effects of prolonged sitting and improves posture.

Come onto your hands and knees and bring your hands slightly in front of your shoulders. Spread your fingers wide, press down through your knuckles, and tuck your toes under.

Exhale as you lift your knees off the mat and reach your sit bones toward the ceiling. Keep your knees slightly bent as you lengthen your back.

Press the back of your thighs toward the wall behind you and stretch your heels toward the mat. Straighten your knees without locking them.

Press the base of your index fingers into the mat. Lift along your inner arms from your wrists to your shoulders. Firm your shoulder blades against your back, then widen them and draw them toward your tailbone. Relax your neck and keep your head between your upper arms.

Stay here for 10 or more breaths. As you exhale, bend your knees and lower yourself into Child’s Pose

Beginner’s Tips

Keep your knees bent as much as you need to experience (relative) comfort in your hamstrings and low back.

Let your heels feel heavy as you lower them toward the mat. Although it’s perfectly okay (and common!) for your heels to remain lifted off the mat.

Reach your sit bones toward the wall behind you where it meets the ceiling.

If you have tight shoulders, place your hands slightly wider than your shoulders and angle them slightly outward.