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DOWNWARD FACING DOG (ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA)

This month Pose to focus on is Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose).

This pose is used many times in most yoga classes. It is often called a resting pose, but in all honesty, it is not a resting pose. You are working to create length through your arms, spine and legs in this pose. So, I consider it more of a re-set pose. As you continue your yoga practice, this pose creates the opportunity to check in with how your body is feeling and time to reconnect with your breath. Maybe you will notice where you feel tension within your body, or feel extra strong… Below we will cover the foundation and key actions of the pose. To view on of the essential videos that cover the pose, grab your yoga mat and click here.

Foundation: Hands are shoulder width apart; possibly turning your fingers a bit away from the body (if you feel tension in your wrists with your fingers pointing directly to the top of your mat).  Feet hip distance apart with second toes inline with the centers of the heels (so if you peek back at your feet, you shouldn't see your heels sticking out on either side of your toes).
Hips create a 90º angle between your hands and your feet.

Key Actions to remember when practicing:

  • Press down evenly thorugh the base of each finger and your palms
  • Wrap your triceps (your upper outter arms) in toward your nose
  • Arms straight
  • Keep neck in line with the spine
  • Spread collar bones wide
  • Draw your navel toward your back body
  • Lengthen the spine and all four sides of your torso away from your hands
  • Press hips/thigh bones back
  • Lengthen through your legs*  

*Lengthening your legs may cause your hips to drop, so I find it helpful to bend my knees, then lift up onto my toes, then lift up my knee caps to straighten the tops of my legs. After that, I lower my heels toward the mat.

Helpful hints: with each inhale, think about lengthening, each exhale, softening.

adhomukhasvanasana muscles
Sanskrit Word Breakdown:
Adho: downward
Mukha: facing
Svana: dog
 
 
Primary Muscles
(highlighted in above photo)

Secondary Muscles
---

Deltoid  Triceps Brachi
Latissumus Dorsi Serratus Anterior
Gluteus Maximus Quadriceps
Hamstrings Intrinsic foot muscles
Gastrocnemius  

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