Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward-Facing Dog Yoga Pose
Welcome back to this month’s Prime Women yoga pose – Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
(AH-doh MOO-kah shvah-NAHS-anna)
adho = downward
mukha = face
svana = dog
Downward-Facing Dog Benefits
* It deeply stretches your hamstrings, shoulders, calves, arches, hands, and spine
* Builds strength in your arms, shoulders, and legs
* It is considered a mild inversion, because your heart is higher than your head in this pose but less strenuous than other inversions, such as Headstand
Downward-Facing Dog Instructions
1. Come onto the floor on your hands and knees. Set your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly forward of your shoulders. Spread your palms, index fingers parallel or slightly turned out, and turn your toes under.
2. Exhale and lift your knees away from the floor. At first, keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis, and press it lightly toward the pubis. Against this resistance, lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling. From your inner ankles, draw the inner legs up into the groins.
3. With an exhalation, push your top thighs back and stretch your heels down toward the floor. Straighten your knees, but be sure not to lock them. Firm the outer thighs, and roll the upper thighs inward slightly. Narrow the front of the pelvis.
4. Firm the outer arms, and press the bases of the index fingers actively into the floor. From these two points, lift along your inner arms from the wrists to the tops of the shoulders. Firm your shoulder blades against your back, then widen them and draw them toward the tailbone. Keep the head between the upper arms; don’t let it hang.
6. While bending your knees, slowly begin to walk your feet forward until they are close to your palms at the front of your mat (place hands on blocks if necessary for flexibility).
7. Transition into Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
8. Finish with Upward Salute (Uddhva Hastasana)
To Deepen the Pose:
To increase the stretch in the backs of your legs, lift slightly up onto the balls of your feet, pulling your heels 1/2 an inch or so away from the floor. Draw your inner groins deep into the pelvis, lifting actively from the inner heels. From the height of the groins, lengthen the heels back onto the floor, moving the outer heels faster than the inner.
Always work within your own range of limits and abilities.
If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga poses.
“When I’m trusting and being myself as fully as possible, everything in my life reflects this by falling into place easily, often miraculously.” ― Shakti Gawain
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