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Downward Facing Dog: The Incredible Benefits (& How to Do the Pose)

Downward Facing Dog: The Incredible Benefits (& How to Do the Pose)

Adho Mukha Svanasana, as the name suggests is a cumulative of three Sanskrit words, ‘downward, face and dog’.

Hence, it is also known as the ‘downward dog pose’ due to its resemblance with the downward facing position of a dog. The pose is one of the most traditional postures, and is practiced in both Hatha and Ashtanga yoga styles. That being said, Adho Mukha Svanasana pose is one of the most widely acclaimed poses in yoga because of it's multiple benefits. It is an accessible pose for most, regardless of their yogic expertise and skills, or age.

Here are some amazing Adho Mukha Svanasana benefits:

• Adho Mukha Svanasana directs blood flow to the brain, which results in enhanced brain activity, sharper memory and cognition, and decreased stress and anxiety. 
• The pose stretches, strengthens and lengthens the spine for a stronger and more toned back. 
• It is also strengthens shoulder muscles and warms up the core. 
• Stretches and tones calves, arms and hips.
• Revitalizes and re-energizes the body by increasing oxygen supply to vital organs.
• Increases the capacity of lungs. 
• Renders a beautiful glow to the skin.
• Helps in achieving deeper sleep. 
• Relieves symptoms of menstrual discomfort. 

Perform these simple Adho Mukha Svanasana steps in order to reap the enlisted benefits safely and effectively: 

Preparatory Poses: Marjaryasana-Bitilasana (Cat/Cow Pose), Setu Bandha Sarvangasana or Bridge Pose, Phalakasana (Plank Pose)

Step 1: Warm up the calves, shoulders and wrists by following preparatory poses or specific warm up exercises.

Step 2: Assume the table top position. While the arms still parallel to each other, extend them forward so the torso forms an inclined position in the front. 

Step 3: Lift the knees while exhaling. Lengthen the tailbone by pushing it towards the pubis region. While maintaining this force, lift the buttocks towards the ceiling. 

Step 4: With heels firmly planted toward the ground, deepen the stretch in the hips while inhaling. Open the knees until they form a straight line. Make sure not to lock the knees in order to avoid abrasion of cartilage. Exhale and stretch the entire body while maintaining its balance and resistance on the floor to rest upon the wrists and the feet. 

Step 5: Keep the arms firm and the fingers planted into the floor. Do not push the fingers outward at any point. Firm the shoulder blades and let the neck remain aligned with the back. The ears shall gently press in between the biceps. Keep the stomach tight at all times and the head supported in between the arms. Remain in the pose for 60 seconds before bending the knees to reach back into the initial position. Rest in Balasana or Child Pose. 

Repeat this pose up to 8 times depending upon the comfort of the body. 

Follow Up Poses: Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand Pose), Uttanasana (Forward Bend Pose)

Practice this wonderful yoga pose on a regular basis for maximum benefits. Since, it is an integral pose of the Sun Salutation series, performing it at sunrise is highly recommended.

**While most people experience benefits in downward facing dog, there are certain contraindications and precautions that need to be kept in mind before performing this wonderful pose. Avoid this pose if you suffer from hypertension, loose bowel movement, or in case of wrist and shoulder injury. 

By Manmohan Singh

Manmohan Singh is a yoga enthusiast himself; freelance writer Manmohan lets his free spirit flow with his thoughts as he pens them down in his writings. He loves travelling and believes that ‘knowledge shared is knowledge gained.’ This concept inspired him to set up his own yoga institute in Rishikesh,India and other countries to spread the message of yogic sciences. His Yoga school (Rishikul Yogshala) imparts teachings on Yoga and Meditation under guided instructions of traditional yoga teachers. Interact with him through his website:

Want to learn healthy alignment tips to improve your Downward Facing Dog? Watch this 6-minute pose guide tutorial!

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