how to… adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog)

28 Dec

[read time: 2 minutes]

in this pic: me giving a juicy and playful assist to my good friend and DC-based acupuncturist extraordinaire Nicole Mires – http://www.pekoedc.net/

even if you can’t get anyone to stand on your back and giggle with you, you can still access the joy and receive the benefits of down dog… once you get through the mental dance you might have to do to consider that it’s actually a rest position.

things to remember:

  1. from plank pose (heels over balls of feet, wrists beneath shoulders), inhale and activate the core lifting the belly button up and toward the spine
  2. exhale push the hips up high and surrender the heart toward the earth
  3. spread fingers wide and root down through the knuckles at the base of the fingers, especially the index finger side of the palm – press all the air out from under the palm
  4. rotate triceps (backs of arms) toward the thighs and roll the shoulders down and away from the ears and toward each other – when you do this correctly, it feels like the posture gets harder, but remember: better alignment prevents injury
  5. straighten the elbows (unless you’re double jointed and in that case, slightly bend them)
  6. keep the core engaged as you activate the thighs to help reach hips up – do not lock out the knees
  7. if you have tight hamstrings, bend the knees a bit to access the shoulders and allow the chest to move toward the thighs
  8. reach the heels toward the floor – it is NOT necessary for the heels to touch the floor
  9. it is more important to have a straight and dynamic line of energy from the hands to the hips than to have straight legs or heels on the floor
  10. relax the head and allow the crown release toward the earth, turn the gaze (dristi) toward the navel or upper thighs
  11. breathe deeply

benefits of adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog) include strengthening the arms and legs as well as stretching the calves, achilles tendons, hamstrings, shoulders, and hands.  it can also improve digestion, relieve stress, headache and fatigue, and alleviate menstrual or menopausal symptoms.

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