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Downward Facing Dog

Strike a Pose: Downward Facing Dog

If taking yoga is one of your goals, let me introduce you to Downward Facing Dog. It's probably the most basic yoga pose, and no matter what style of yoga you study, you'll end up in this pose more than a handful of times in one class. Even though it looks pretty straightforward, it's a challenging position to hold since most of your weight is in your upper body. It's also difficult if you have tight hamstrings, so don't be frustrated if your knees are bent or your heels don't touch the ground.

Sanskrit Name: Adho Mukha Svanasana
English Translation: Downward Facing Dog Pose
Also Called: Down Dog
  • Begin on your hands and knees. Your wrists should be underneath your shoulders, and your knees underneath your hips.
  • Inhale as you tuck your toes under your heels. Then exhale to lift your hips, coming into an upside down "V" shape called Downward Facing Dog.
  • Spread your fingers wide and create a straight line between your middle fingers and elbows. Work on straightening your legs and lowering your heels toward the ground. Your heels should be slightly wider than your toes, so the outside edges of your feet are parallel with the outside edges of your mat. Relax your head between your arms, and direct your gaze through your legs or up toward your belly button. Work on holding for five breaths.

Downward Dog is a great way to stretch your calves — I do this pose after almost every workout. So even if yoga is not your thing, this pose can be your calves' best friend.

Meanerina Meanerina 6 years
@fizzymartini I am a yoga instructor, and just wanted to let you know that it is entirely possible that compression is your issue... the bones in the ankle just won't allow an angle of flexion steep enough for the heel to touch the foor... but don't worry! That does not mean your Down Dog is in any way imperfect!!
Meanerina Meanerina 6 years
to check if you are in a good stance for Down Dog Plank is the standard checking posture, wrists under elbows. From all fours the feet are too close to the hands...
neonbrite neonbrite 6 years
love downward dog. Did a way too much walking this weekend while in NYC and did this along with a few other poses to stretch out at night in the hotel. It worked wonders
redsilkshoes redsilkshoes 8 years
Highly underrated pose. Just one that I love to hang out in and really lengthen myself in.
AshleySunshine AshleySunshine 8 years
*Pioneers - I do the exact same thing!!! I think it has to do with the blood rush to the head.
fizzymartini fizzymartini 8 years
You know what's odd? I'm pretty flexible and can hit most basic poses quite well... except the downward dog. I can make a perfect line, but my heels just can't touch the floor, however I try. I can even sink my head right to the floor... but no heel contact! My yoga teacher was completely puzzled by this, until a couple of weeks in, when she said, "you know, I think your legs are just a lot shorter than your body". Which is... unfortunate.
nguidjol nguidjol 8 years
I don't like the Downward Facing Dog Pose, it always makes me dizzy. Maybe, the breathing is my problem.
pioneers pioneers 8 years
If I'm feeling tense at work, I just lock my office door and do downward dog a few times for 30 seconds each. It's so relaxing and invigorating at the same time. One of my favorites, along with boat pose.
zeppelinrules zeppelinrules 8 years
I always thought downward facing dog looked fairly easy until I recently joined a yoga group and attempted to hold this pose for an extended period of time...I just couldn't do it! I love the challenge though!
staticnoise staticnoise 8 years
during the last weeks i was constantly stretching, esp. my legs and back and i feel like getting more flexible every day. hopefully my heels will touch the ground soon!
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
I'm one who suffers from tight hamstrings because those muscles are shorter than the average woman's, and my sports doctor told me it's something you can't stretch away, and I haven't been able to make the muscles feel any "longer." Anyway, I just look so ridiculous doing this pose that it keeps me out of yoga classes, even tho I can do everything else, but forward bend of course. I have started doing yoga at home and I do a really hysterical impression of this pose, but I consider it my yoga arch-nemesis.
Jeny Jeny 8 years
This is the pose we usually start in for my yoga class. love it.. great stretch!
chatondeneige chatondeneige 8 years
Hmm, I saw that this was sponsored by Old Navy. I was in there the other day looking at a rain jacket, and I saw their yoga stuff. It was haaaaard to not break my new year's resolution of only buying things I need.
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
good one!
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