Adho Mukha Svanasana Benefits and Steps to do Downward Facing Dog Pose

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The modern lifestyle is unarguably a fast paced and a physically/mentally taxing one. Some of the negative effects of sifting through modern day life are hypertension, chronic back pain and rigidity in various parts of the body. If you are someone who can relate to this, perhaps this article can be of some use to you, since it talks about Adho Mukha Svanasana popularly known as Downward facing Dog Pose, one of the less complex but rewarding Yoga positions in the repertoire of Yoga.

Adho: Down/Downward    Mukha: Face   Svana: Dog    Asana: Pose

What is Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog Pose

Also known as the Downward Facing Dog, the Adho Mukha Svanasana is one of the twelve known Surya Namaskar (Sun salutation) poses that are practised by the Yogis. It is practised by individuals around the world that seek to strengthen their core and improve blood circulation, amongst other things, which in turn would have profound benefits on the entire body. This pose has existed for nearly 3 centuries but was popularised by Bhawanrao Shriniwasrao Pant Pratinidhi, the king of Aundh, Pune through his book “The Ten-Point Way to Health: Surya Namaskars”. Now, we shall look into how to perform this pose.

How To Do Adho Mukha Svanasana

Follow the step-by-step guide below in order to perform the Adho Mukha Svanasana popularly known as Downward facing Dog Pose properly:

  • Adho Mukha Svanasana Step 1: Start in the Vadrasana pose. Post that, extend your arms to your front and rest your upper body on them while ensuring your palms are on the mat, in line with your shoulders and there is a decent amount of distance between the fingers of each palm.
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana Step 2: Extend your hips up in the air while exhaling.
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana Step 3: After the completion of step 2, lower your head between your arms in order to ensure that your ears are in a parallel alignment with your arms. After doing so, you should have achieved the half motion of the Suryanamaskar pose.
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana Step 4: Press your heels against the floor while in the aforementioned position.
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana Step 5: Breathe deeply and ensure that your calves, shoulders, thighs and arms feel the stretch as a result of all the inhalation which activates the muscles. Additionally, make sure that your body maintains the shape of a mountain after completing the Adho Mukha Svansasna motion.
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana Step 6: Retreat to the original Vadrasana position slowly to complete one repetition of the Adho Mukha Svanasana pose.

Note: Keep your neck relaxed and free throughout the process

What Are The Benefits Of Adho Mukha Svanasana

Some of the benefits of performing the Adho Mukha Svanasana popularly known as Downward facing Dog Pose are as follows:

Decreases hypertension: Downward facing Dog Pose decreases Hypertension indirectly as it redirects the blood flow to the brain and reduces the heart-rate to go down, which could be a direct result of taking on extra stress.

Strengthens your muscles: The fast-paced metropolitan city life of today may leave very little time for its dwellers to actually focus on their body, causing it to actually weaken as the years go by. But, the Downward facing Dog Pose can fix that issue to an extent as it works on all the large muscle groups, allowing for greater strength and flexibility levels.

Promotes mental clarity: Given that Adho Mukha Svanasana increases the blood flow to the brain, it enables the mind to become more clearer and alert, which is a benefit that can come in handy especially to those individuals who perform more mentally-demanding tasks on a daily basis.

Decreases chronic lower back pain: Chronic lower back pain is a direct result of weakening muscles, and since the main benefits of Adho Mukha Svanasana is their strengthening, it automatically reduces the chronic pain in the back of the practitioners.

Strengthens your tendons: Adho Mukha Svanasana strengthens and elongates your muscles, it also works its magic on the ligaments and tendons surrounding it. However, if you have faced a ligament injury in the past and are thinking about doing this particular pose, consult your orthopaedic doctor.

When To Practise Adho Mukha Svanasana

One should ideally practise Adho Mukha Svanasana popularly known as Downward facing Dog Pose as a part of a yoga session multiple times over for best results. Additionally, it can be done 2-3 times in isolation as well. However, ensure that your stomach and bladder are empty for at least 4-6 hours before a yoga session.

Adho Mukha Svanasana Contraindications

You must avoid performing the Adho Mukha Svanasana popularly known as Downward facing Dog Pose pose if you have sustained ankle, shoulder, wrist or knee injuries. Additionally, individuals who have had their spine, shoulder or hips operated on also must avoid practising this pose since it puts a great deal of pressure on the concerned body parts.

Anatomy of Adho Mukha Svanasana a.k.a Downward facing Dog Pose

The Adho Mukha Svanasana popularly known as Downward facing Dog Pose engages all the major muscle groups one can think of. They are as follows:

The shoulder: When you are attempting to achieve full motion, you are bound to feel your shoulder blades stretching. In addition to the same, you will also feel a similar stretching sensation in your lattimus dorsal. This stretching manouver causes microtears in the concerned areas, which facilitate muscle growth and increase in strength levels provided the practitioner maintains the proper diet.

Head: When you achieve full motion, you will also feel a stretching sensation in your head as it is being pulled don by gravity. You will also feel the exact same things in your neck and trapezius area.

The Spine: Since one of the main formations of the Adho Mukha Svanasana is the surya namaskar, your spine and all the muscles around it are bound to feel an elongating sensation. Due to this reason, if the pose in question is practiced regularly, the practitioner may notice an increase in their stature over time. 

Biceps/Triceps: The Adho Mukha Svanasana expands and engages the practitioner’s biceps while simultaneously contracting the triceps, which will lead to the aforementioned micro tears similar to the ones sustained after a set of bicep curls and tricep pushdowns.

The Glutes: The pose also activates your gluteus maximus and minimus muscles, which can eventually turn into those coveted buns of steel if the practitioner keeps up with the regime. Simultaneously, the hamstrings are subjected to an expansion sensation, which will make them stronger over time.

The tension created in all these muscle groups allows for an increased strength level and range of motion over time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Adho Mukha Svanasana

Why is it called Adho Mukha Svanasana?

Adho Mukha Svanasana derives its name from Sanskrit. The breakdown of every portion of this name along with its individual meaning are as follows:

Adho: Down/Downward

Mukha: Face

Svana: Dog

Asana: Pose

The pose gets its name since after gaining full motion, the practitioner’s body posture resembles that of a dog doing his/her stretches.

What are the techniques of Adho Mukha Svanasana?

Some of the alternative techniques of the Adho Mukha Svanasana are as follows:

Bent Knee Downward Dog Pose

Downward Dog Pose Against A Wall

Downward Dog Pose With Heels Against A Wall

Who should not do Adho Mukha Svanasana?

People with knee, spine, shoulder, wrist and neck injuries should avoid doing the Adho Mukha Svanasana popularly known as Downward facing Dog Pose.

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