Adhomukha Svanasan (Downward-Facing Dog, DFD). This pose resembles an upside down V and of course a dog stretching. A pose seen in most types of Yoga done several to many times per class. Some of the jobs of DFD are; transition, resting, strengthening,
stretching and rejuvenate. It’s also an inverted pose since the hips are above the heart.
I’ve broken this pose into a three part series, with videos of the different versions in each part. If your heels don’t reach the floor, next weeks part 2 will show the bent knee version. And If having trouble or can’t come to the floor, in part 3 I’ll demo different chair versions.
There are two ways to get into the part 1 and 2 versions, Standing pose, or Table pose (on hands and knees). From standing bend forward at the hips, bending the knees to get both palms on the floor, step one leg back like going into a lunge, then the other leg back even with the first leg. The other way is through Table, move hands a little forward. Turn the toes under and lift the sitz bones up and back.
Once in DFD you’ll begin adjusting. Hands at least shoulder width apart or wider and the distance between the feet should be the distance between your hands. Each leg is in line with the same side arm and the feet are parallel to each other. Spread the fingers with the index fingers pointing to the top of the mat and the thumbs facing each other as best you can. Push the whole hands firmly into the mat at all times to help reduce excess strain on the wrists. Focus the weight on the base of the index finger. Keep arms straight, pressing the shoulder blades in will help.
Feel the length from your fingers up the arms and especially the back lengthening all the way to the sitz bones with a nice clean angle. Be careful not to let the ribcage drop putting a dip in the upper back, draw the ribs in to help achieve a straight back. If you have rounding in the lower body, firm the quadriceps pressing them back lengthens the hips away from the ribs to create more length in the lower back.
Focus points; Keep the arms fully stretched, you can turn the elbows in to help with this which also gives you more stability in the shoulders, push and lift the the sitz bones up and back to the wall behind you lengthening the back. This helps take you out of having pushup arms that are perpendicular to the floor and gives the angle needed for DFD.
If you can have straight legs then keep the feet flat on the floor pushing the legs back, keep a micro bend in the knees to prevent hyper extending. For more of a challenge you can step the feet farther back. Let the head hang relaxing. And of course the most important part, are you BREATHING, long slow breath?
A good way to check the distance between the hands to the feet is to come forward with the torso into a Plank from DFD, the distance should be the same in both poses.
To come out lift your head and look at you’re hands, walk toward the hands until your in a Forward Bend. Or lift the head and drop the knees to the floor into Table pose.
I personally hold the pose 40 – 60 seconds doing several each practice. You can definitely hold the pose longer if it feels right or less until you build your strength and stamina .
As always use common sense when doing any pose. Work into the pose slowly focus on form not the depth of the stretch. Let the pose fit you, don’t try to fit into the pose.
See you at next weeks blog for the bent legs version as well as the benefits of Down-Ward Facing Dog.
Healthy & Happy,