Who let the dogs out? If you have heard this song in your childhood, then you belong to the millennial kids group. The world of yoga also has a special mention of dog’s pose. Downward Facing Dog pose or the Adho Mukha Shavasana is often called the celebrity pose of yoga. This pose has earned worldwide fame because this is one of the first poses one will learn when they start learning yoga. It gets the lead because it can act as an intermediate pose and also act as a resting pose. This is an intermediate pose in the sun salutation sequence or the Surya namaskar.
This pose requires both strength and flexibility. It prepares you for doing the inversions, backbends and forbends, thus making it a transitional phase. So why is it related to dogs? The name arises because of the similarity between the way a dog stretches after getting up. The Sanskrit name adhas meaning down, mukha means face, and svana means dog gave the pose name as adho mukha Shvanasana. Though the name is not found in the hatha yoga text, we can find a similar pose by the name Gajasana or the elephant pose described in the text in the 18th century. There are several benefits for this Downward Facing Dog Pose, but before that, one must know the significance and method to do it correctly. For expert guidance, call an experienced yoga practitioner.
Significance of Downward Dog Pose
The pose, if you see it correctly, will have the head facing down. The head will touch the floor with the weight of the body being transferred to the palms and the feet. The arms are stretched forward, with the shoulder and feet are apart but parallel. The legs are straight, and the hips are raised high. Imagine a dog while they get up. A downward dog helps you to stretch the leg’s hamstring and calf muscles and helps building the strength in the shoulder.
It is another one of those poses which affect the entire spine, tones and lengthens the entire spinal cortex. Preparatory pose for this pose includes the plank pose and the uttanasana. While the follow-up pose includes headstand, standing poses and uttanasana. This pose is often used to rest between a difficult forward or backbend pose. Let us know how to perform this pose correctly.
How To Perform The Downward Dog Yoga?
The Downward Facing Dog pose is a simple yet effective pose. So one should not find it difficult to score a good pose. Let us follow the instructions and master this pose.
- The hands should be under the shoulder, while the knee should be underneath the hips.
- With the support of the hands, push back and lift your hips. Keep the legs straight.
- Spread the fingers and acquire the surface down from the forearms into the fingertips.
- Rotate the upper arms on the outer side to broaden the collar bones.
- Move the shoulder plates away from the ear towards the hips. Let the head hang.
- Pull up your leg and thigh muscles strongly in order to take the burden of the body’s weight from your arms. It helps you to keep the body light in the air and makes it an effective resting pose.
- Push your heels downwards on the floor, lift your hip and tail high and curl the thighs inwards.
- The preparatory phase is the plant position. The distance between the hand and the feet should be correct and equal.
- Now exhale and bend your knees downwards and then come back to your hands and knees.
Few tips for beginners. The length of the spine and the legs is important. It is important to keep them straight. The curling of the arms initially can be the tricky part, and it is advisable to try it while you are sitting on the heels. If you find the balancing act difficult, then you can practice it against a wall. This pose should be easy for you. However, if you are not sure, then you can surely go for the variations and modifications. Also, people with few medical ailments should try out modifications.
Modifications And Variations
The Downward Dog pose is a resting pose for experienced yoga practitioners, but it can take a toll on beginners. There are few variations for them to try by bending the knees and allowing the heels to lift slightly by supporting the heels, such as with a rolled-up yoga mat.
Other variations include bending one knee on the ground and lowering the hip. There is a puppy dog pose. The practitioner takes the support of the wall. Touch the hand against the wall, bend down to the level of the hand. If you have sweaty hands, then use a block and place the hands on it to complete the pose. You can try to take help from your partner to elevate your hips.
Benefits Of Downward Dog Yoga Pose
The benefits of adho mukha Shvanasana can be divided into physical and systemic. Let us check out the systemic benefits. It sensitizes and unblocks the nervous system. It tones and soaks the kidneys as well as increases the flow of oxygen in the brain. Oxygenating the brain has several benefits as it stimulates memory and concentration. Oxygenating the brain also improves intracranial pressure and relieves certain types of headache. It helps in regulating the pituitary and hypothalamus glands and increase the blood flow in the circulatory system. As the head is downwards, the blood flow to the brain increases, and it also helps to improve the brain control of eyesight, hearing and revitalize one’s skin tone.
Physically it helps in toning the arms, shoulder, back muscles, hips and thighs. The pose is an inversion, and it helps in strengthening the lungs. Finally, it helps to strengthen the muscles of the legs and alleviate the individual from kinds of sciatic irritations. You can also use this pose as a resting pose and give your spine a rest between the strong backbends and forward bend pose.
Downward Facing Pose Contraindications
This pose is not recommended for people having any kind of wrist injury or carpal tunnel syndrome. It is avoided during the third trimester of pregnancy. There are certain conditions where patients are not allowed to bend their head below the level of the heart, such as high blood pressure, a detached retina or dental bone grafts. Other medical conditions where one should avoid this pose are acid reflux that may give a food regurgitation, hiatal hernia, shoulder injury and history of cardiac arrest.
Downward Facing Dog pose is the poster boy pose of the yoga world. It has several systemic and physical benefits and is a part of many intermediate yoga sequences. This is one of the poses which most of the initial yoga practitioners are familiar with. This adho mukha shvanasana demands a hefty amount of joint motion, approximately 45 degrees of ankle dorsiflexion. This degree of flexion is not usually seen in day to day life. So if you want to rest your spine and give the body maximum stretch and flexion then this pose is for you. For further advice, call an expert yoga practitioner.