Sanskrit Name: Adho Mukha Svanasana (AH-doh MOO-kah shvah-NAHS-anna)
:: Start on all fours
:: Move your knees two inches back
:: Lift your hips high to the sky
:: Allow your hands to be shoulder-width apart, your feet hip-width
:: Ground down through your thumb and forefinger
:: Rotate your shoulders away from your ears (external rotation)
:: Create a long spine as your hips continue to reach back
:: Reach your heels toward the mat, though they may remain lifted, depending on your hamstring flexibility
:: Engage your core
:: Keep your head between your upper arms
:: Roll your upper thighs inward slightly
:: Option to pedal out for feet and maintain a slight bend in your knees before returning to stillness
Benefits: Downward-Facing Dog lengthens and strengthens the arms and legs, opens the shoulder muscles, lengthens the entire back and spinal muscles, stretches the hamstrings, calves, arches and hands. It calms the brain, helping to relieve stress and mild depression, while energizing the body. It also relieves headaches, insomnia, back pain, fatigue and improves digestion. This pose can be therapeutic for high blood pressure, asthma, flat feet, sciatica, sinusitis and menstrual discomfort.
Contradictions: Be careful practicing this pose if you have Carpal tunnel syndrome, diarrhea or are in your late stages of pregnancy. If you have high blood pressure or a headache, support your head on a bolster or block and keep your ears level between your arms.
Know your asana: Watching a dog wake up and go into a perfectly deep stretch adds new meaning to the pose. When practicing the pose, connecting to your center while stretching your body in a long line has a unifying effect, positioning your spirit within while you stay connected to the outside world.
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