Yoga Pose of the Month: Downward Facing Dog
Adho Mukha Svanasana: Downward Facing Dog
Asana: Pose, posture, seat
You may have heard in a yoga class to find your way home or go to your home base, a place to repose, reset, reconnect and recharge. You may also know this pose from the traditional Sun Salutation sequence. Our yoga pose of the month is not only one of the most common and practiced poses, it is also one of the most misunderstood and misaligned postures in yoga. The yoga pose for this month is Adho Mukha Svanasana, downward facing dog.
When aligned properly, no matter how many times you do it in a class, this pose has amazing benefits that can be felt almost immediately. Since this pose can be thrown around so frequently, and often times carelessly, it is very important to learn the proper alignment to avoid immediate or long-term injury. Once alignment is attained it can be a place of intensity as well as a place to repose, reconnect and call home.
On your hands and knees, with the hands slightly in front of the shoulders, separate the hands so the middle of the wrist is in line with your outer deltoid. Spread the fingers apart and press the fingertips and index knuckle firmly in the ground. Index fingers are parallel and remaining fingers are turning out slightly.
With the knees below the hips, curl the toes and press the pelvis up and back. Walk the feet towards the back edge of the mat and separate the feet inner hip width distance. With the knees bent, spread the toes apart and squeeze the heels towards each other to align the middle of the patella with the middle of the ankle and the second and third toe.
Root the hands firmly in the ground, lift the triceps slightly, squeeze the forearms towards each other and rotate the upper arms out.
Lift the sitting bones up towards the ceiling, press the thighs back and apart and then lengthen the tailbone towards the heels and draw the ribs in. Engage the quadriceps.
If the hamstrings are open, lengthen the heels towards the back edge of the mat. If the hamstrings are tight, keep the knees bent.
Relax the head and neck and keep the neck in the natural line of the spine. Gaze back towards the feet.
- Lengthens the spine and opens the shoulders and thoracic chest
- Strengthens arms, shoulders, back and legs
- Opens and stretches hips, hamstrings, calves and feet
- Calms the nervous system to help alleviate stress, depression and insomnia
- Revitalizes the body and diminishes fatigue
- Improves digestion
- Relieves menstrual cramps and symptoms of menopause
- Reduces tension in the neck and relieves headaches
- High blood pressure
- Carpal tunnel syndrome or wrist pain
- Acute shoulder injury
- Late term pregnancy to avoid splitting the rectus abdominis muscles (abdominals)
- Glaucoma or detached retina