Downward dog is a well-known and popular posture to practice in yoga asana classes. Often dubbed a “resting” pose, it’s suitable for beginners, although they made need to build up strength to hold it.
👉 Before I go further, if you want to review my five key points about asanas, click here.
Yoga postures, also called asanas, shapes, and poses, are the physical positions you practice. Asanas create flexibility, build strength, and develop stamina in order to prepare you for meditation.
*And remember, asanas are only ONE part of a yoga practice, not the sum total of yoga.
Prefer videos? Watch How to Do Downward Dog in Yoga
Forward Bend, Standing, Strengthening, Inversion
Downdog, downward-facing dog, adho mukha svanasana
I’ve provided some benefits, contraindications, variations, chakra connections, and sequencing suggestions. Other yoga teachers and sites may list additional or varying information.
👉 Remember Key Point #1, there is no one singular way.
STEPS TO DO DOWNWARD DOG
- Start in child’s with your arms extended in front.
- Lift your hips off your heels and tuck your toes.
- Slowly extend your legs until you resemble an upside-down V.
BENEFITS OF downward dog
Benefits = By practicing this posture, the conditions listed can be improved.
- Calms your mind and relieves tension
- Builds strength in arms, shoulders, and core
- Stretches entire backside of body
- Good for first, third, and fourth chakra balancing
CONTRAINDICATIONS OF DOWNWARD DOG
Contraindications = A condition that the posture could make worse.
- Carpal tunnel or other wrist issues
- Shoulder or hamstring strains or pulls
- Headache, eye or ear problems
- High blood pressure
VARIATIONS OR ADAPTATIONS
By altering the form of a yoga posture, you can meet the requirements and strength of each person. Yoga encourages you to practice within your capacity whether that means you need to increase or reduce the intensity.
“Asana variations are not just for people with specific physical problems. They can help all yoga practitioners remain open to discovery.” –TKV Desikachar, The Heart of Yoga.
- Keep knees soft (bent)
- Place elbows on floor in dolphin
- Extend one leg to the sky for three-legged dog
- Bend the knee of your extended leg and rotate knee toward sky
- Place your hands on a wall and walk back until you feel sensation in your back
Downward dog has root, solar plexus and heart chakra connections.
The root chakra is associated with the base of the your spine, legs, and feet. Your solar plexus chakra aligns with your intestines, stomach, and diaphragm. The heart chakra correlates to shoulders, arms, chest, lungs, and breathing.
In adho mukha svanasana, your feet and hands provide the foundation (root), you build the strength in your core (solar plexus) and upper body (heart).
Postures you could do BEFORE downward dog:
- Cobra or upward dog
- Standing forward bend
Postures you could do AFTER downward dog:
- Standing forward bend
- Three-legged dog
- Warrior 1 or lunge
FINAL THOUGHTS ON downward dog
Adho mukha svanasana provides an all-over body stretch and strengthener, and eases bodily aches and pains.
Avoid forcing your chest toward your legs as this can stress your shoulder joints. Instead of working to get your heels to the ground, focus on lengthening the back of your legs.
Explore downward dog until you can facilitate the best version you can comfortably do that day.