Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Downward dog is one of the most basic yoga postures, regularly taken in most styles of asana (physical yoga practices). It usually starts as a quite intense posture for beginner practitioners but slowly evolves into a very comfortable and a ‘resting’ pose for more advanced yogi’s.

The main muscles that get a stretch are the muscles at the backline of the body; hamstrings and calves. The spine gets lengthened, and the chest region (pectoralis major) gets stretched. The back muscles (latissimus dorsi) and shoulder muscles (deltoids) work to stabilize the shoulder. The arms are active (triceps) and get strengthened. 

Common Mistakes

• Shortness in the hamstrings will tilt the pelvis too much backwards (posterior) and give a round to the lower back. It’s important to maintain the natural curves in the spine to keep a healthy and supportive alignment. Bending the knees can alleviate this issue and will allow the pelvis to stay in a neutral position. I also like to give beginner students blocks under the hands to give their upper body more length to compensate for this shortening.

• Inactivity of the shoulder girdle causes the body to sink into the shoulder joints. Make sure that the elbows stay soft and the arms externally rotate. Holding the outer edges of the mat may alleviate this issue.
 
• Slipping of the hands on the mat. Firmly pressing the hands into the floor or holding the outer edges of the yoga mat may alleviate this issue.
 

Overall, when practiced safely, this posture can be of great benefit! It will balance the body in between asanas as well as strengthen and open the body. It will give a sense of rest while calming the nervous system and cooling the mind from over-activity.

 
 

Written by Tara Chirimar

Tara Chirimar is an E-RYT 500 / YACEP (YA) certified Yoga teacher and a certified psychologist. Her classes aim to inspire a higher connection to the self and to reach deeper into one’s soul, to the place of inner peace and stillness. Her classes focus on healthy and organic alignment while using meditation as the centre of the practice. Tara teaches Hatha/Vinyasa/Yin/Nidra/Meditation and has taught several thousands of classes over the last years.

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