Yoga Pose of the Day – Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Savan Asana)


Demonstration of Downard Dog - Adho Mukha Svanasana Yoga Pose by a lake

Todays Yoga pose of the day is the popular  and staple of any yoga practice, Downward Dog which is called Adho (down) Mukha (face) Svan (dog) Asana in Sanskrit. The downard dog as the name suggest draws inspiration from the stretching of dogs and cats.

It is a challenging pose as there are lots of components to it and it has personally taken me quite a few years of practice to finally start getting some hang of the direction the pose finally aims to reach. And every now and then i learn new things in the pose (like the position of the balls of the feet, the direction of the heel, to pull back the outer skin of the calves and thighs, to create space between the inner edges of the thighs, it is seemingly endless. That is what i love about Yoga anyways – each pose has infinite spaces to explore and expand with practice).

Step by Step sequence on how to Do the Downard Dog pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana )

  • Come on all fours – with palms shoulder width apart and knees hip width apart
  • Make sure your shoulders are directly above the palms and the hip points  are directly about the knees
  • Spread all the fingers of the palm, particularly the index finger mound (which tends to lift up)
  • Take your waist (using the sacrum as the guiding point) back and up – your goal is to create an inverted V with the sacrum at the apex
  • When you have taken your waist as far back as possible, then extend your knees to the back and taking your waist up
  • Try to take your heels to the back and towards the floor
  • Make adjustments. Rotate the upper arm out and above towards the ceiling to take your shoulders apart
  • Let your head and neck hang as you come into the full pose. If possible try to rest your forehead on the floor.

Health Benefits of the Downward Dog pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana )

As noted by James Hewitt in the Complete Yoga Book the the downward dog has the following health benefits

  • Removes stiffness from the legs, back and shoulders
  • The pose stimulates the circulation
  • It brings blood to the neck, face and brain and helps energize the body

Tips in improving the pose

  • Keep the index finger firmly planted into the floor to give you the ability to pull back from the waist
  • Lead into the pose by pulling yourself back, not pushing from the palms out
  • First take your waist (sacrum) as far back as possible and then try to extend the knees
  • Keep your knees bent if the need by so you can get your spine straight and waist back
  • And reach your heel to the back and then try to get it down
  • Rotate the upper thigh in, thereby creating space between the inner edges of the two opposing thighs
  • Make sure you press the toe mounds equally (the foot has a tendency to rotate outside)
  • Dont forget to breathe – the chin usually comes into the throat – let it relax
  • And try to keep your ribs and abdomen in one line
So that is it. It really is a great pose to kick start your practice. The downward dog forms a critical part of sun salutations and hence you should try to practice this pose as regularly as possible.


Related posts:

  1. Yoga Pose of the Day: Kak Asana (Crow Posture) and Bak Asana (Crane Pose)
  2. Yoga Pose of the Day: Powerful Chair or Hunkering Pose (Utkat Asana)
  3. Yoga Pose of the Day- Tada Asana or Samastithi (Mountain Pose)
  4. Yoga Pose of the Day – Trikon Asana (Triangle Pose)
  5. Yoga Pose of the Day: Head Stand (Shirsh Asana)

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