Downward Facing Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana, is one of the most recognizable poses in yoga. It’s also a posture that you’ll return to many times during practice.
These tips can help prepare you to feel steady and strong in this equal-parts stretching and strengthening pose.
PURPOSE OF THE POSE
Can build hand, wrist and upper body strength. Stretches hamstring and calf muscles.
- Start from your hands and knees. Move into Downward Facing Dog by curling your toes under, then lifting your hips up into the shape of an upside-down “V”
- Line the creases of your wrists up with the front edge of the mat
- Press your palms very flat and spread your fingers wide. Seal the knuckles of your pointer fingers and thumbs firmly into the floor. The pinky-side of your hands should be light enough to lift off the mat
- Check that your feet are hips-width distance and point your toes toward the front edge of your mat
- Internally rotate your inner thighs so that your heels turn out slightly. Take a look back at your feet — you should not be able to see your heels
- If your heels can’t quite reach the mat, that’s OK! You can put a soft bend in your knees
- Set your gaze at your belly button. If that is uncomfortable, focus on the space between your feet
- Pull the pit of your belly up and in
Some may make the mistake of having too little or too much space between your hands and feet. You don’t want to feel crunched, nor should you feel as though you’re slipping or struggling to stay in place. Your hands and feet at the base of the pose should feel stable.
Build strength by holding Downward Facing Dog for five to 10 breaths at a time before returning to your hands and knees or Child’s Pose for rest.
You’re now ready to learn Warrior 1, the next pose in the Sun Salutation B series.