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ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA: DOWNWARD-FACING DOG POSE


Adho mukha svanasana (AH-doh MOO-kah shvah-NAHS-anna), also known as downward-facing dog pose, is a mild inversion that calms the nervous system and helps relieve stress. During each exercise, make sure to maintain a focus on your breathing as it hones your attention, focusing your mind on the constant change as you breathe in and out. By tuning in, you should sense how the pose affects your breath.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • Ease pressure on your wrists by placing a wedge under your palms or performing the pose on your elbows.
  • Elevate your hands on blocks or on the seat of a chair to take weight off of your hands, wrists, and shoulders, and open your shoulders.

CONTRAINDICATIONS AND CAUTIONS:

Although this is a mild, stimulating inversion, you should check with a doctor before performing the pose if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Wrist problems like carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis
  • High blood pressure
  • Eye or inner ear infection
  • Late-term pregnancy (best avoided at this time)

TIPS:

This pose stretches the hamstrings, calves, spine and back. While this can help with relief from discomfort and prevent strain, exercise caution. Go slowly and don’t push your body beyond its limits.

STEP-BY-STEP:

  1. Start on your hands and knees in a table top position with your hands and knees shoulder width apart. Your hands should be slightly in front of your shoulders. Spread your fingers wide on your mat with your middle fingers facing forward. Firmly press your palms flat on your mat.
  2. Curl your toes under. Exhale slowly as you lift your knees off of the floor and send your hips skyward. Press your chest back toward your thighs.
  3. Move toward straightening your legs and lowering your heels, but don’t lock out your knees or try to force it.
  4. Tilt your sitting bones up high and rotate your inner thighs slightly in and up, aware of your low ribs’ tendency to jut out as you find length here. Draw them gently back in by toning your belly.
  5. Press the pads of your fingers and your full palm into the floor. Straighten but don’t lock out your arms. Engage your upper arm muscles to draw your elbows slightly in and pull your shoulders out of your ears.
  6. Keep your neck neutral (ears aligned with biceps) with your your gaze looking slightly back toward your feet.

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PREPARATORY POSES:

  • Plank Pose
  • Uttanasana

FOLLOW-UP POSES:

  • Uttanasana
  • Standing Poses
  • Headstand

SANSKRIT:

  • Adho: downward
  • Mukha: face
  • Svana: dog
  • Asana: pose

 

PHILOSOPHY & ORIGIN:

Adho mukha svanasana is practiced as a free-standing posture or as part of a vinyasa sequence and is used as a resting point for stretching the back of the legs and the shoulders. (Source)

PHYSICAL BENEFITS:

  • Stretches your hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands
  • Strengthens your arms, shoulders, and back
  • Improves mobility of your digestive system
  • Relieves back pain, headaches, insomnia, and fatigue

 

ENERGETIC BENEFITS:

  • Elongates and releases tension from your spine
  • Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause

MANTRA:

Om Mani Padme Hum Mantra

As translated by the Dalai Lama, this mantra literally means “The jewel is in the lotus, or praise to the jewel in the lotus.” Many contend the true meaning of this mantra cannot be translated into a simple phrase or sentence, but all of the teachings reiterate that suffering in life is unnecessary, and through peaceful reflection and calculated action, we can avoid the aspects of our lives that cause suffering and embrace those that bring joy and enhance our daily lives. The lotus is often believed to be symbolic of our ability to rise out of darkness and blossom with beauty, and this recognition of how we rise out of dark conditions is invoked through the power of this mantra.

MUDRA: APANA MUDRA

This mudra is also known as the “prayer mudra.”

How to: The tips of the middle and ring finger (aakash or ether and earth) touches the tip of the thumb. The forefinger and little finger are stretched out and straight.

Benefits:

  • Helps move prana energy to the periphery of the body
  • Regulates the excretory system and helps maintain internal chemical homeostasis
  • Aids in waste elimination from the mouth, eyes, ears, nose, throat, etc.
  • Helps regulate diabetes
  • Helps with constipation and urine obstruction (Source)

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