There are a few things I wish that I had been taught when I first started practicing yoga. Hence I made this series as I want to do everything I can to make it a little bit easier for you guys as beginners.
For me personally I had been practicing for a good few years before a teacher finally told me the true alignment I should be in for Downward-facing dog. Then when this happened my yoga practice completely transformed!
So it may seem silly to do a whole post on just one posture. However I really believe the down dog is the basis for everything! It can teach you so much about alignment and I wish I had known how to do the posture correctly when I first started practicing.
So here it is Adho Mukha Svanasana or “Downward facing dog”…
What does it mean?
“Adho Mukha” = having the face downwards and “Svana” = dog.
Downward facing dog is a resting posture in your yoga practice.
It is rejuvenating, energising and is a really great way to stretch out the legs.
In this posture we are trying to cultivate length in the spine and flatten out the back. The posture lengthens the backs of the legs and strengthens the arms, shoulders, ankles and legs. Also by taking the torso down the head is lowered and fresh healthy blood can reach the head without any straining from the heart.
Lets start from the hands and work our way up the body…
Hands are shoulder width apart, parallel and the fingers are spread away from you. Ensure the middle finger is reaching to the front of the mat or in other words the crease of the wrist it parallel to the front of your mat. Every single cell of the palm is connected to the ground. Even that sneaky thumb pad that likes to lift off every now and then.
[Side Note: Keeping this connection to the mat will actually make it a lot easier when you come to your inversions, such as the handstand. A strong “hasta bandha” or simply hand lock will develop and transform your practice.]
Taking your focus up the body come to your arms and straighten them, making the elbows are kept soft. Shoulders are relaxed and rolling away from the ears.
Traveling further up the body the bandhas should be engaged. Root lock, navel lock and chin lock. It is important here not to over tuck the chin, ears should be inline with your biceps. Now check in with your abdominal muscles and draw them towards the spine.
Come to your tail bone and send it diagonally up to the sky. Reaching upwards and the backs of the legs are stretching all the way down from the knees into the heels.
Feet should be parallel to each other, toes are facing forward and feet are hip width.
It feels nice in downward-facing dog to paddle out the feet, to give the head a gentle shake and just have some fun with it. Remember never be too ridged in your yoga postures!
Give it a go. This posture really does feel great. I don’t think I could ever go a day without doing one downward-facing dog…