Downward-Facing Dog

39

Also known as Adho Mukha Svanasana. This poses clears stiffness in your shoulders; lengthens and straightens your legs; helps to create arches in your feet and strengthen your ankles.

Move Background

This exercise encourages full body circulation and is a great stretch for calves and heels.

Step by step guide

  • Come onto your hands and knees, with your hands shoulder-width apart and your knees hip-width apart.
  • Press the inner triads of both hands firmly into the mat.
  • Turn the eyes of your elbows toward each other and align your shoulders over your wrists.
  • Your knees should be behind your sitting bones to maximize length in your torso and spine when you move into Down Dog.
  • For a few breaths, arch and round your spine, simultaneously moving your head and tail like you did in Cat-Cow Pose.
  • From a Cat tilt, curl your toes under.
  • On an exhalation, slowly lift your knees off the floor, bringing them in line with your ankles.
  • Keep your knees bent and stretch your arms intensely to lengthen your torso.
  • Press the mat away from you and open your upper, or armpit, chest.
  • Lift your sitting bones to tilt the top of your pelvis forward and maintain the natural curves of your spine.
  • Slowly straighten both legs and walk your feet forward a little.
  • Make sure your lower back doesn’t round and that you can still maintain the lift of your sitting bones and the curves of your spine.
  • Extend your arms fully and keep your lower ribs moving toward your spine to avoid low-back overarching and compression.
  • Descend your heels even more as you engage your quadriceps.
  • Stay for 20–25 breaths before coming down to rest.

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