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Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana); A guide


Downward Facing Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana, is a foundational pose in many styles of yoga, including Vinyasa. It strengthens the entire body, stretches the back, hamstrings, and calves, and can help calm the mind. Here is a detailed step-by-step guide to performing this pose:


Step-by-Step Guide


1. Start in Tabletop Position

- Begin on your hands and knees. Align your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Spread your fingers wide, pressing firmly into the mat with your whole hand.


2. Engage Your Core

- Draw your navel towards your spine to engage your core muscles. This helps stabilise your body as you move into the pose.


3. Tuck Your Toes and Lift Your Hips

- Tuck your toes under and, on an exhale, lift your knees off the floor. Pushing your hips up and back. Initially, keep your knees slightly bent and your heels lifted as you start to straighten your legs.


4. Straighten Your Legs and Arms

- Gradually straighten your legs without locking your knees. Your body should form an inverted “V” shape. Press your heels towards the floor, aiming to bring them closer to the mat, but it’s okay if they don’t touch; driving them in the direction of the floor creates the same effect.


5. Adjust Your Hands and Feet

- Your hands should be shoulder-width apart, and your feet should be hip-width apart. Spread your fingers wide and press evenly through your palms and knuckles. Your weight should be distributed evenly between your hands and feet, again pushing back into the hips will help achieve this.


6. Align Your Spine

- Lengthen your spine by drawing your chest towards your thighs. Your head should be in line with your upper arms, ears aligned with your biceps, and gaze directed towards your navel or between your feet, or as I instruct tuck your chin.


7. Engage Your Shoulders and Back

- Roll your shoulders away from your ears, broadening across your upper back. Draw your shoulder blades towards your hips. A good indication of this is if the insides of your elbows are facing away from you to the front of the room.


8. Breathe Deeply

- Maintain deep, steady breaths. Inhale deeply, expanding your ribs and lungs, and exhale completely, drawing your navel towards your spine.


Common Adjustments and Tips


Bend Your Knees if Needed:

If your hamstrings are tight, keep a slight bend in your knees to maintain a flat back and proper alignment.


Hand Positioning:

Keep your hands firmly rooted, distributing your weight evenly across your palms. Avoid collapsing into your wrists.


Foot Positioning:

Press your heels down towards the floor, but don’t force them. Focus more on the length of your spine than the position of your heels.


Active Engagement:

Engage your quadriceps (front thigh muscles) and rotate your inner thighs slightly inward.


Relax Your Neck:

Keep your head in a neutral position, avoiding any strain on your neck.


Modifications


For Wrist Pain:

Place a folded towel or blanket under your hands, or practice on your forearms in Dolphin Pose.


For Tight Hamstrings:

Keep a generous bend in your knees or practice with your hands on blocks to elevate the upper body slightly.


Benefits of Downward Facing Dog


Strengthens:

Arms, shoulders, and legs.


Stretches:

Hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands.


Improves Circulation:

Inverted position aids blood flow to the brain.


Relieves Stress:

Calms the mind and helps relieve tension.


Final Note


Practicing Downward Facing Dog regularly can significantly improve your overall flexibility and strength. Pay attention to your body’s signals, and don’t push beyond your limits. With time and practice, your form and comfort in the pose will naturally improve.


I hope this was an informative read any further help feel free to ask and if you are a practicing member of wild wood movement you can always ask me at the end of practice.


Namaste 🙏

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