Downward-facing Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana, might just be one of the most commonly known yoga asanas (poses)...but what exactly does it do for your body?
The pose, along with practicing yoga, can stimulate your body and its organs, keeping things running smoothly. Promising research also suggests both the practice and asana can improve circulation and cardio-metabolic health. It also creates lengthening in the body and reduces stiffness in the hands and feet.
Getting into the pose
1. Make sure you have spent some time warming up your body, perhaps trying a reclining hand to big toe pose. It is important your hamstrings are not tight while coming into downward-facing dog. Also try practicing with bent knees until you are able to comfortably stay in the pose for about 20 to 25 breaths.
2. Start on your hands and knees, with your hands shoulder-width apart, and knees at a comfortable hip-width. Press all ten fingers firmly into the mat and make sure your shoulders are in line with your wrists. Your knees should be directly under your hips.
3. Move through a few rounds of cat/cow, pulling your stomach toward the floor in an inhale & bringing the crown of your head toward the sky, then rounding your back on an exhale.
4. While exhaling bring your knees off the floor and back, stacking with the ankles and either keeping them bent or slowly petal each side, straightening one leg and then the other. Make sure your arms are fully extended and your hands are pushed firmly into the ground. Do not allow your lower back to round, if it is, move your feet closer in toward your hands. Also be sure to pull your lower ribs toward your spine to prevent injury. If you feel like you need more space in your upper body, bring your shoulders out to create that space but keep your arms where they are--moving them out too much can create tension in your neck and shoulders.
+Don't turn out your hands, this will put excessive pressure on your wrists.
+Don't lift your palms from the ground, this can also cause injury over time.
Hailing from East County San Diego, Kaleen Moran (she/her) is an English major at Cuyamaca College and a young yoga enthusiast. Her free time is spent out in nature, whether her feet are on the trail, nose is in a book, or notebook and pen are in her hands. She finds solace in mountain tops, her dogs and cat, books and poetry, good vegetarian food, and the loving embraces of her family and friends.
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