Adho mukha svana
Down Dog is a commonly known yoga pose and part of the popular Sun Salutation sequence. It is an excellent full body stretch. It can be considered an inversion posture, since the head is positioned below the heart, and with that comes the benefits of reversing the flow of blood and all fluids of the body. Down Dog also strengthen the arms and shoulders and challenges the deep abdominal muscles, which support low back posture. The action of the hip joint flexing and folding brings the abdominals closer toward the spine, strengthening them.
To come into the posture, come onto your hands and knees with your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly forward of your shoulders. Lengthen the arms, spread your palms and turn your toes under. Exhale and lift your knees away from the floor, sending the tailbone towards the sky. Keep the knees slightly bent to begin with and the heels lifted. As the hamstrings release, continue to slowly straighten the knees. and reach your heels toward the floor. Straighten your knees only as much as is comfortable, making sure to not lock them.
As you experience this posture more deeply, begin to pay greater attention to the upper body. Firm the outer arms and press the palms actively into the floor. Draw your shoulder blades in toward your back, allowing them to widen and descend down. Do not let the head hang loosely, but rather keep it positioned between the upper arms.
Stay in this pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes. When you’re ready to exit the posture, bend your knees to the floor with an exhalation and rest.
Upper back, shoulders, hamstrings
- Improves digestion
- Relieves insomnia
- Strengthens the arms, legs and abdominals
- Stretches the hamstrings, calves, palms and feet
- Develops willpower
- Stimulates the mind
- Relieves stress
- Relieves sinusitis
If you have carpal tunnel syndrome support the wrists with a rolled up blanket under the base of the hands.