Downward-facing dog

Downward-facing dog, down dog, downward dog, adho muka svanasana – whatever you know it as –  is an integral pose of yoga.    Aligning yourself properly in this pose will reduce unnecessary strain, fatigue, and injury.  Also, understanding the benefits of down dog helps us understand why we are doing it in the first place!

First, here are some tips to help make sure you are in the pose correctly:

  • Start from plank pose with hands shoulder-distance apart making sure that your elbows are stacked directly over your wrists and your shoulders directly over your elbows.  Spread your fingers wide like you are digging in sand.  Press them into the ground paying particular attention to the forefinger and thumb.  Feet should be hip-distance apart.
  • From here lift your hips up as you move into the downward-dog position.  Try not to adjust your hands or your feet positions when you do this.  Continue to push your hands down into the ground.  Reach your heels down to the ground.  They do not actually have to touch the ground; the reaching is the important part.  If your heels do touch the ground then great!
  • Draw energy up through your arms, relax your shoulder blades towards each other, and reach your sits bones up and back.  Lift your navel in towards your back.  Let your head hang heavy and breathe.

Second, here are some benefits from down dog:

  • Helps build bone density because it is a weight baring exercise.
  • Helps wake you up and reduce fatigue.  Try the pose for at least one minute after a long day at the office.
  • It’s good for relieving upper back pain, neck pain, and for easing tension in this area.  It is also good for stress relief as the spine gets lengthened and decompressed.
  • It’s good for increasing blood circulation as the heart gets elevated above the head.  Active blood circulation aids in flushing toxins from our system, and regulating blood pressure.
  • Finally it’s good for enhancing digestion as the spleen, kidneys, and liver get compressed.  Also a good core strengthener.

There you have it.  Some tips on getting into Downward dog properly and what this pose does for our bodies as we practice it.

To your health.

Disclaimer:  All articles written on Microyogi are opinions and not meant to serve as any kind of instruction for how to move your body.  I am merely writing to serve as a means of trying to find my own answers.  I am not a certified trainer or medical expert.

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I'm a lab rat turned yogi. My interests lie in how yoga and meditation can help healthcare workers (and other frontline workers) relieve both physical and mental stress. Other interests include green living, clean eating, minimizing chemical exposure in our homes, and finally finding inner peace while minimizing anxiety.

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