Adho Mukha Svanasana

Common Title Adho Mukha Svanasana
English Title Downward Facing Dog Pose
Sanskrit Title Adho Mukha Svanasana
All Titles Downward Facing Dog Pose, Adho Mukha Svanasana, Down Dog Pose
Pose Level Beginner
Pose Position Prone
Pose Type Inversion, Forward-Bend, Stretch, Strength
Sanskrit Pronunciation Play Audio
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Yoga Sequences

List of yoga sequences with Adho Mukha Svanasana:

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Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) is named as such because in this yoga pose body looks like that of a dog (Svana) relaxing and stretching while burrowing its face (Mukha) downwards (Adho) towards the shoulders.

Chakras

Adho Mukha Svanasana helps open, activate, and balance the following chakra(s):
  • Crown Chakra (Sahasrara Chakra)
  • Third Eye Chakra (Ajna Chakra)
  • Throat Chakra (Vishuddha Chakra)
  • Heart Chakra (Anahata Chakra)
  • Solar Plexus (Manipura Chakra)

Anatomy

Adho Mukha Svanasana benefits the following muscles and hence can be included in yoga sequences with the corresponding muscle(s) focus:
  • Arms and Shoulders
  • Biceps and Triceps
  • Core (Abs)
  • Chest
  • Psoas

Adho Mukha Svanasana yoga sequences

Adho Mukha Svanasana is commonly found in the following types of yoga sequences:
  • Yoga sequences for teenagers
  • Arm balancing yoga sequences
  • Yoga sequences for improving focus and concentration
  • Yoga sequences for arms and shoulders
  • Yoga sequences for building biceps and triceps
  • Core yoga sequences
  • Heart opening yoga sequences
  • Yoga sequences for psoas

How to do Adho Mukha Svanasana

The below cues and yoga sequences added by yoga teachers show multiple ways to do Adho Mukha Svanasana depending on the focus of your yoga sequence and the ability of your students.

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  1. From table-tuck toes; float hips to sky, walkout then settle
    1. Spread fingers wide, claw hands to mat (gecko palm)
    2.Draw shoulders on the back body
    3. Curl toes under
    4. inhale: press into hands and feet lifting knees off ground
    5. Lift sitz bones towards sky, broaden sits bones back then len...
  2. use as a transition pose to move up to standard.
    lifting your hips up towards the cieling.
    - Feel hands rooted into the floor.
    -Hips lift away from the ribs
    -Scapula move together on the chest
    -Draw inner arms together

    Pedal out the heeling.
    Even breath
  3. feet hip width apart or wider, heels yearning towards the mat
    legs are engaged, knees lift
    abs tucked up and in
    Tailbone pointing towards the ceiling
    fingers spread wide, pressing through knuckels
    shoulders slide down your back
    head hangs, jaw is relaxed
  4. From Upward dog - after last exhale - extend arms down and push upper body backwards
    Lift legs off ground
    Goal is to keep your heels on the ground
    Push Butt using your lower back - to the sky
    Keep palms on the ground and let head hang between shoulders
  5. Tuck the toes under and draw the navel in. exhale, lift the hips up and back towards the sky in Adho Mukha Svanasana/ Downward facing dog.

    Bend the knees slightly. Spread the fingertips. shoulders away from the ears.

    Inhale, look between the hands. Exhale to step, walk or jump to the front of...
  6. Bring both hands to the ground.
    Come to the ball of your back foot.
    Step both feet back, downward facing dog.
  7. Curl your toes under, downward facing dog.
  8. Bring both hands to frame your front foot.
    Come to the ball of your back foot.
    Step back, downward dog.
  9. 1. Bring your hands forward 1 hands distance
    2. Spread your fingers and push your palms into the mat - tuck your toes
    3. Lift your knees slightly off the mat
    4. INHALE -> on the EXHALE push your chest towards your thighs - keeping your knees bent
    5. Eyes gazing back towards your knees
    6. Reach...
  10. HANDS DOWN
    SWING THE LEG BACK
    DD
  11. The person who spreads their armies too thin is always the first to loose. How are you spreading yourself too thin? In what ways might this be related to your confidence and self esteem?
  12. Enter the posture on an exhale and stay there for several breaths.
  13. Curling toes under, grounding hands down into mat, on an exhale lift hips up towards ceiling coming into downward facing dog. Pressing hands into the mat (as if pressing the mat away from you to let shoulders fall down the back). Stay here 3-5 breaths
  14. From table-tuck toes; float hips to sky, walkout then settle
    1. Spread fingers wide, claw hands to mat (gecko palm)
    2.Draw shoulders on the back body
    3. Curl toes under
    4. inhale: press into hands and feet lifting knees off ground
    5. Lift sitz bones towards sky, broaden sits bones back then len...

Discover more cues, teaching ideas, and how to do steps at How to Do Adho Mukha Svanasana

Adho Mukha Svanasana Benefits

Adho Mukha Svanasana Benefits:
  • The muscles like the hamstrings and calves are put to work thus strengthening them over a period of time. Abdominal muscles too are strengthened.
  • The shoulders take in a lot of the weight of the body and by ensuring they are placed tight and straight while in the yoga pose, a hunched back can be worked at.
  • The stiffness around heels and ankles can be removed.
  • Works on improving digestion as through breathing the abdominal muscles help in strengthening the walls of the stomach and intestines.
  • Helps in maintaining Uterus for women.
  • Helps relieve stress and depression.
  • Boosts blood circulation thus aiding in removing toxins from the body and energizing the body.
  • Increases flexibility of the hip, knee, and ankle joints, and strengthens the ligaments and tendons of the legs.
  • Strengthens wrists, arms, shoulders and legs.
  • Stretches hamstrings, calf muscles, back and legs.
  • Reduces back and neck aches.
Continue reading more on Adho Mukha Svanasana Benefits

Adho Mukha Svanasana Contraindications

 (Downward Facing Dog Pose) Adho Mukha Svanasana Contraindications:

Awareness of the body during any yoga pose is very important. Not everyone responds to a yoga pose the same way as we are all made different. This yoga pose is not advisable to be practiced by patients suffering from the following:

  • Heart disease: The flow of blood to the Brain cells in this position can bring uneasiness.
  • High Blood Pressure: This again brings a sudden flow of blood and some pressure to the brain thus causing difficulty in breathing.
  • Slip Disc: An injured spine is weak and needs rest.
  • Vertigo: As there is pressure in the neck region, further damage can be caused if one is suffering from Vertigo.

All the above can be worked with a qualified medical practitioner or a well trained yoga teacher or yoga therapist.

Adho Mukha Svanasana Variations

Adho Mukha Svanasana Variations: Below are some common variations of the yoga pose Adho Mukha Svanasana with base pose as Upward Plank Pose (Purvottanasana).

Adho Mukha Svanasana Steps

 (Downward Facing Dog Pose) Adho Mukha Svanasana Steps:
  1. Place the palms on the floor close to your chest after releasing from Salabhasana, and taking one deep inhalation raise the body upwards place the foot on the floor and exhale completely taking the body on the feet and the palms.
  2. Bring the shoulders and the head deep inside raising the lower body and hip upwards towards the sky/ ceiling. As you exhale take the neck and the head deeper down trying to reach for the floor with the head.
  3. Pulling in the tummy in this pose is a good way to begin loosing the tummy fat and tightening the abdominal muscles.
  4. With every inhalation loosen the body and as you exhale take the stretch deeper towards the legs, arms, shoulders and the chest and watch the movement of the spine as the breathing happens.
  5. Stay in this pose if comfortable for about 6 breaths and tighten the buttocks and the tummy out of habit in this pose.
  6. This pose helps in reducing the fat at the tummy, chest and the bust.

Adho Mukha Svanasana Modifications

 (Downward Facing Dog Pose) Adho Mukha Svanasana Modifications:

A lot of the yoga poses can be practiced initially with the help of yoga blocks , cushions and support from wall. In this yoga pose too there are variations:

  • Wrist support with yoga blocks or blankets.
  • Wall support to avoid falling and to get better grip.
  • Bend the knees, if hamstrings are inflexible or when the back in weak.

Adho Mukha Svanasana Yoga Sequence Preparatory Poses

Before we move into the Downward Facing Dog Pose a few other yoga poses need to be mastered with breathing.They are listed below.

  • Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose): This pose can be used to help relax both the thighs and spine. To relax the spine in particular, keep the spine straight and follow a careful rhythmic breathing.
  • Standing Backbend (Anuvittasana): This back bend will remove any stiffness around the spine and hip, thus making Downward Dog Pose smooth.
  • Urdhva Hastasana (Palm Tree Pose): This pose works on opening the soles and any stiffness around the hamstrings. Stretching arms over and above your head as far as you can go helps in loosening the shoulders and arms.
  • Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold pose): This Forward Fold can help in ensuring the knees are straight and tight during Adho Mukha Svanasana. This is the first step towards opening your hamstrings, thus making Adho Mukha Svanasana easier with feet firm on floor.
  • Cat Cow Pose (Bitilasana Marjaryasana): The breathing technique applied here will help in loosening the muscles around the lower spine and middle spine. This also works to strengthen the wrists and elbows. Make sure you are in this yoga pose for at least 10 breaths.

The preparatory poses here are solely to work on the muscles. It is like warming up. So in every pose try and hold for at least 6 breaths.

Adho Mukha Svanasana Yoga Sequence Relaxing Follow-up Poses

Regular practice of relaxing the muscles is a must. In Adho Mukha Svanasana, the muscles around the spine are put to work along with stretching of shoulders, arms and elbows. The Hamstring muscles too are engaged. To relax these muscles one can follow up with certain poses. They are listed below.

  • Dolphin Pose (Catur Svanasana): This will help in relaxing the neck and the wrists to begin with.
  • Adho Mukha Virasana (Downward Facing Hero Pose): This will help in relaxing the spine, upper shoulders and thighs.
  • Uttana Shishosana (Puppy Dog Pose): In this pose you will completely relax the upper back and shoulders.

Adho Mukha Svanasana Yoga Sequence Level Up Follow-up Poses

After mastering and building confidence in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog Pose) we can move to the next level in strengthening the muscles. Some of these yoga poses are:

The above poses also work well for runners as the hamstrings are made stronger and more flexible.

Adho Mukha Svanasana Breath Awareness

 (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

In yoga, the focus should not be only on mastering the pose. No pose gives its full benefits if breathing is ignored. In Adho Mukha Svanasana, you inhale while going into the pose and exhale completely once in the pose. Rhythmic breathing is practiced in this pose. With deep inhalation taking your mind to the lower spine, feel the expansion of the spine and lower back. As you exhale, feel the contraction of the spine and reach the floor with your head, thus working on the shoulders and elbows. With every exhalation try harder to reach for the floor with your head.

Adho Mukha Svanasana Yoga Sequences

List of yoga sequences with Adho Mukha Svanasana:

Adho Mukha Svanasana Titles in English and Sanskrit

Many yoga poses have multiple titles because of differences in their Sanskrit to English title translation or a specific title becoming popular because of it's common usage amongst yoga teachers and yoga practitioners. Below are common titles of Adho Mukha Svanasana:

  • Downward Facing Dog Pose
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana
  • Down Dog Pose

Adho Mukha Svanasana Sanskrit

Adho Mukha Svanasana sanskrit title is Adho Mukha Svanasana

Please click on the link below to listen to Sanskrit pronunciation of Adho Mukha Svanasana:
Sanskrit audio pronunciation for  Adho Mukha Svanasana Play Sanskrit audio pronunciation for Adho Mukha Svanasana

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