Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog Pose
- Begin with both hands and knees on the mat
- Knees and the feet are hip distance apart and hands are shoulder width apart slightly more forward than shoulders
- Spread the fingers apart and evenly pressing on the mat
- Curl the toes of both feet under on an inhalation
- On an exhalation lift the knees off the mat and raise the tailbone upwards simultaneously straightening the arms and drawing the chest towards the legs that are in the process of straightening
- Try to align the head with the straight arms
- Initially keep the legs slightly bent to consciously lift the tailbone upwards by lifting up onto the toes of the feet
- Maintaining the height created with the tailbone slowly begin to straighten the legs as much as is possible and is comfortable bringing the heels down to the mat as much as possible
- It is not essential that the heels touch completely or the feet or completely flat on the mat
- Pull the shoulders away from the ears and rotate the upper arms away from one another opening the space between the shoulder blades
- The thighs rotate inwards towards one another, this is further facilitated by moving the inner aspects of the heels of the feet AWAY from one another
- Have the intention and conscious awareness of drawing the hips upward towards the armpits and the armpits downwards towards the hips
- Hold for 5 breaths as a beginner or 8 – 10 breaths or more for a more advanced practitioner
- To release slowly bend the legs and the arms bringing the knees to the mat and return to the starting position.
Counterpose / Pratikryasana:
- Balasana – Child Pose
- Ardha Adho Mukha Virasana, (also called Mandukasana), big toes together knees wide and upper body resting between the knees on the mat
- The 2 poses are ideal for beginners
- Vajrasana – Thunderbolt Pose – sitting on one’s heels – More comfortable for advanced practitioners
- Stretches, tones and strengthens the arm muscles
- Relieves stiffness between the shoulders
- Strengthens and stretches the leg muscles
- Relieves back pain
- Relieves fatigue
- The pose is an inversion – an inverted forward bend or “V” and is soothing and calming in an invigorating way in that it brings re-oxygenated blood to the brain which calms the central nervous system. Forward bends are known to be withdrawing and calming as are inversions.
Cautions and Modifications:
- If prone to aching wrists due to prior injuries or perhaps repeated practice, turn the hands outwards. Determine at which angle the fingers point outward is most comfortable and keep the hands in that position for the duration of Adho Mukha Svanasana
- In the classic hand position of fingers pointing forward it is essential that the weight is distributed evenly on the hand as much as is possible and for the duration of the pose
- Press more weight into the thumb and index fingers, the pads below the fingers and less of bearing weight on the wrist itself
- Try to prevent the head and the neck from hanging down: remember the neck is an extension of the spine and should align with it
- Do not practice this pose if suffering from Glaucoma or any eye infection.
- Do not practice if suffering from any ear or chest infection such as upper respiratory or respiratory infection such as bronchitis etc.
- Do not practice if recovering from any swelling in the face and head area.
- The last 3 cautionary notes should be adhered to any inversion poses.
Ajna Chakra, (“Third Eye” Centre) – (One can rest the forehead on a bolster or a block).
Wishing you happiness in your practice!
Yours in Yoga,