A Beginner's Guide to Downward Facing Dog | Yoga Pose

A Beginner's Guide to Downward Facing Dog | Yoga Pose | WIWORLDANDI

Downward Facing Dog is the basic pose for yoga.It is the most known posture and It may be the first pose you learn as you begin your yoga practice. It helps boost energy in the body and hence can be included in flow yoga sequences.

Sanskrit Name

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Benefits

  • The muscles like the hamstrings and calves are put to work thus strengthening them over a period of time. Abdominal muscles too are strengthened.
  • The shoulders take in a lot of the weight of the body and by ensuring they are placed tight and straight while in the yoga pose, a hunched back can be worked at.
  • The stiffness around heels and ankles can be removed.
  • Works on improving digestion as through breathing the abdominal muscles help in strengthening the walls of the stomach and intestines.
  • Helps in maintaining Uterus for women.
  • Helps relieve stress and depression.
  • Boosts blood circulation thus aiding in removing toxins from the body and energizing the body.
  • Increases flexibility of the hip, knee, and ankle joints, and strengthens the ligaments and tendons of the legs.
  • Strengthens wrists, arms, shoulders and legs.
  • Stretches hamstrings, calf muscles, back and legs.
  • Reduces back and neck aches.

Anatomy

Downward Facing Dog Pose benefits the following muscles and hence can be included in yoga sequences with the corresponding muscle(s) focus:
  • Arms and Shoulders
  • Lower Back
  • Middle Back
  • Upper Back
  • Biceps and Triceps
  • Core muscle
  • Feet and Ankles
  • Hamstrings
  • Pelvic
Tips
  • Arms: lengthened to floor, active elbows, active armpits, palms grounded,    fingers active wide apart
  • Leg: lengthened upwards, knee caps lifted
  • Feet: parallel and grounded, pushing arch of foot, toes active, wide apart
  • Hips: internal rotation, forward bend
  • Sit bones: engaged and lifted up
  • Spine: lifted from base, lengthened down, forward bend.
  • Back: active and broad
  • Shoulders: engaged, rolled back, away from ears
  • Neck: long and lengthening towards floor
  • Chest and rib cage:broad and wide
  • Chin: a bit tucked
  • Head: aligned with shoulders, reaching the floor
  • Muscles: calves, hamstrings, gluteus, hip flexors, pelvic floor, psoas, core, triceps, biceps
  • Gaze: navel or toes

Instructions

You can do practice it anywhere you can lay out wi yoga mat

    • Start from your hands and knees with your wrists underneath the shoulders and your knees underneath the hips.
    • Tuck your toes under and push sit back to heels, extend your legs.
    • Spread your fingers and ground down from the forearms into the fingertips.
    • Outwardly rotate your upper arms to broaden the collarbones.
    • Let your head hang and move your shoulder away from your ears towards your hips.
    • Engage your quadriceps strongly to take the burden of your body's weight off your arms. 
    • Rotate your thighs inward, keep your sitting bone high, and sink your heels towards the floor.
    • Check that the distance between your hands and feet is correct by coming forward to a Plank position. The distance between the hands and feet should be the same in these two poses. Do not step the feet toward the hands in Down-Dog in order the get the heels to the floor.
    • Exhale and bend your knees to release and come back to your hands and knees.

    Modifications

    A lot of the yoga poses can be practiced initially with the help of yoga blocks , cushions and support from wall. In this yoga pose too there are variations:

    • Wrist support with yoga blocks or blankets.
    • Wall support to avoid falling and to get better grip.
    • Bend the knees, if hamstrings are inflexible or when the back in weak.

    Contraindications

    Awareness of the body during any yoga pose is very important. Not everyone responds to a yoga pose the same way as we are all made different. This yoga pose is not advisable to be practiced by patients suffering from the following:

    • Heart disease: The flow of blood to the Brain cells in this position can bring uneasiness.
    • High Blood Pressure: This again brings a sudden flow of blood and some pressure to the brain thus causing difficulty in breathing.
    • Slip Disc: An injured spine is weak and needs rest.
    • Vertigo: As there is pressure in the neck region, further damage can be caused if one is suffering from Vertigo.

    By: Tummee | Reviewed by: Carlota