One of the most well-known postures that are most used in Yoga sessions in different styles is the face-down dog or adho mukha svanasana. This posture or asana of Yoga receives this name because it simulates the position that the dogs adopt when stretching. It is a posture of transition and rest.
We can perform the dog upside down as an isolated posture in itself, although the most common is to use it as a transition between other asanas. We explain everything you need to know about this asana to execute it correctly.
The Benefits of Downward-Facing Dog Yoga
The upside down dog is a posture in which we stretch the entire back chain of our body , emphasizing the back, shoulders, glutes, hamstrings and twins.
This posture also helps strengthen the muscles of the back, neck, shoulders and abdomen , which must be kept activated in order to maintain this position for a longer or shorter period of time (about five deep breaths if we execute it as a posture in itself, less time if we use it as a transition posture).
It also helps to improve our blood circulation and is very effective in relieving menstrual cramps.
How to run the dog face down
In order to perform the posture of the dog face down we can enter it in two different ways : either from the posture of the mountain (from a standing position) or lying face down.
- If we start from standing position: with our feet apart to the width of the hip, we breathe in deeply and raise our arms towards the ceiling. As we let the air out, we flexed our hips until we reached our feet. From this position, we take a step back to reach the inverted V posture, bringing the hips towards the ceiling (we direct the ischia upwards).
- If we start from lying face down: we flex the arms and we place the hands to both sides of the body, a little ahead of our shoulders. The feet are separated to the width of the hip, and with the fingers supported in the mat. We rest our knees on the floor to get on all fours, with our knees directly below our hips, and from there, we raise our hips towards the ceiling, stretching arms and legs.
To leave the position, we return to support the knees in the ground and we relax the back. A good idea is to perform before and after the dog mouth down to the child’s posture or balasana : a rest position that allows us to relax the muscles of the back.
Tips for getting your dog upside down is perfect
- Separate the fingers from the hands and tighten the floor firmly: this will help you to have a good support to perform the asana and raise your hip towards the ceiling. Both hands and feet should push the floor down.
- The heels can be supported on the floor or not: depending on your degree of flexibility. Trying to bring the heels to the ground will help us stretch the entire lower back chain well: to do so, remember to push with your thighs back.
- Make sure you stretch your entire back well: it is usual to stretch your legs completely but leave your back arched, especially in the lower back. Concentrate on bringing the ischions to the ceiling and tightening firmly with your hands to the floor.
- Contraindications: This position is not recommended for people with carpal tunnel syndrome (because a good part of the weight of the body rests on the wrists) and also for women in the last months of pregnancy. If we suffer from hypertension we can rest the head on a pillow or a block of Yoga when performing the dog face down.