Yoga Pose – Downward Facing Dog

Since returning to asana (body positioning or postures in yoga), I have once again learned to appreciate the poses that are building blocks to the rest of my practice.  I will break down the poses and let you know what the benefits are to your practice.  The first pose I will break down is downward facing dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana:

Come to the floor on your hands and knees.   Place your knees directly below your hips and hands slightly forward of your shoulders. Spread your palms, and press down into your mat evenly with your fingers and palm.

Push the floor away with your hands.  Press the thigh bones back.   At first keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor.

Firm the upper inner arms. widen across the collar bones, melt the trapezius, move the shoulder blades down and into the back, and lift the sternum.
Inner thighs roll back, outer hips hug in.  Make sure your legs are parallel and that the four corners of the feet press down and the heel is lined up with the 2nd toe.

Keep the head between the upper arms; don’t let it hang.  Hold this pose for 5 full breaths.

Adho Mukha Svanasana is one of the poses in the traditional Sun Salutation sequence. It’s also an excellent yoga asana all on its own. Stay in this pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes. Then bend your knees to the floor with an exhalation and rest in Child’s Pose.

The benefits of this pose are that it calms the brain, stress reliever, energizes, and improves digestion, therapeutic for asthma and sciatica.  Contraindications, caution if you have high blood pressure or late-term pregnancy.  Some beginner tips are to use blocks under your hands, wrap a strap securely around your arms just above your elbows and press the outer arms out resisting the strap and push the inner shoulder blades outward, or place your hands wide on the top of your mat.


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