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An Easy Guide to Downward Dog, or Adho Mukha Śvānāsana

Downward Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana, is one of the most widely recognised yoga poses. It offers the ultimate all-over, rejuvenating stretch and is great for beginners.

Watch a clip

Downward Dog, or Adho Mukha Śvānāsana, is one of the most widely recognized yoga poses. It offers the ultimate all-over, rejuvenating stretch and is great for beginners. 

Nothing beats hanging in Downward Dog, or Adho Mukha Śvānāsana. Done properly your strength will quickly improve and you'll come to relish the feeling of stretch from your neck to your shoulders, all the way down your spine and into your legs and heels. 

It's also a great basecamp - a yoga pose we return to again and again and this makes it a good way to check in with yourself - to see where you're at physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

 

Watch a clip for this yoga pose 

 

How to do Downward Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana, in easy steps  

Step 1:

Start on hands and knees, the back is straight and parallel to the floor. Hands a little ahead of your shoulders, knees in a straight line with your hips.

Step 2:

Spread the fingers and ground the palms into the mat, keep your middle fingers in a straight line with your elbow and shoulder.

Step 3:

Turn the toes under, slowly lift the knees off the ground.

Step 4:

Lengthen and lift your spine, and tailbone towards the sky.

Step 5:

Engage the thigh muscles by lifting them up towards the hips.

Step 6:

Push through the fingers, move the shoulder blades down and broaden the upper back.

Step 7:

Exhale and push your thighs back and gently lower the heels towards the mat. Slowly straighten your legs.

 
 
Step 8:

Keep relaxing the neck and head, keeping the neck in line with the spine - don't be a hang dog!

Step 9:

Stay here for 5 to 10 breaths, breathing steadily.

Step 10:

To come out of the pose, exhale and slowly bring the knees down to the mat. Take Child's Pose.

 
 

Solosol movement availbale at yogaclicks

Yoga pose category:  Weight on hands 

Level: 2  

Downward Dog, or Adho Mukha Śvānāsana, is a great yoga pose for beginners, and is a good way to check how your flexibility has improved as you build your skill. The stretch that you feel all through your body when practicing this yoga pose – from the neck to the calves – can make you feel rejuvenated and at ease, so it’s a great pose for days when you’re feeling stiff. 

 

Sanskrit words meaning: 

Adho – downward 

Mukha – face 

Svana - dog 

 

Yoga pose health benefits

Like all yoga poses, Downward Dog has a range of health benefits. Use it to help with the following health conditions:  

Fatigue 

Flat feet 

Menstruation 

Anxiety 

 

Yoga pose contraindications

Don’t practice Downward Dog if you have any of the following health conditions: 

Carpal tunnel syndrome 

High blood pressure 

Late-term pregnancy 



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Lucy Edge 

is a yoga advocate and writer with three yoga books to her name, including the beloved travel memoir Yoga School Dropout. She writes regularly for the national press, has authored over 150 guides to types of yoga and yoga poses, discovered nearly 250 proven health benefits of yoga through her painstaking classification of 300 clinical studies, and collected more than 500 personal testimonials to the real life benefits of yoga. She is also the creator of our yoga shop – YogaClicks.Store – handpicking yoga brands that are beautifully made by yogis committed to environmental and social sustainability.

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