Adho Mukha Svanasana – downward facing dog is one of the key poses in vinyasa flow (and ashtanga) classes. It’s a pose that easy connects one asana with the next. It can be hard on your wrists in the beginning, so you might want to come down on your forearms. It’s a nice opening for your hamstrings and calf muscles and the one legged version can give you a good opening of your iliopsoas muscle; a deep back muscle that often gives low back pain.
You can find a power yoga flow with a lot of downward facing dogs in this video.
Getting into Adho Mukha Svanasana – downward facing dog
- Start in Tadasana– mountain posture
- Inhale your arms up, lengthening your spine
- Exhale and bend forward from the hips
- Inhale into a flat spine (parallel to the floor)
- Exhale place your hands on the floor (bend your knees if needed), step back into a plank pose
- Inhale raise your hips and move them backwards, sinking your heels to the floor. You are in a kind of triangle shape now with your hands and feet shoulder and hip width apart and your pelvis as the top of the triangle.
- Sink your head in between your arms to the floor, lengthening your back more and more.
- Stretch your legs as much as possible and comfortable for your hamstrings. In the final pose your heels are on the floor.
- Stay in this pose for a minute.
- Sink your knees to the floor, bring your bottom on your heals and rest your head on the floor in child pose for a few breaths before you come out.
Benefits of Adho Mukha Svanasana – downward facing dog
- Removes fatigue and energizes you (especially good for long distance runners after a long race)
- Alleviates pain and stiffness in heels
- Strengthens ankles
- Realigns legs
- Alleviates stiffness in the shoulderblades and inflammations in shoulders
- Strengthens abdominal muscles
- Lowers heartbeat
- Rejuvenates and stimulates the brain
- Boosts joyfulness
Source: Iyengar – Light on Yoga / Key muscles of Yoga – Ray Long / Ashtanga – David Swenson / Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha – Swami Satyananda Saraswati