Downward Facing Dog
Downward Facing Dog, adho mukha shvanasana, is one of the most recognized pose. People who have never done yoga a day in their lives can still name downward dog as a yoga pose. This pose is great for strengthening the leg and arms, as they are main body parts used in this pose. Doing this pose stretches the shoulders, hands, hamstrings, calves and the arches of the foot. Downward facing dog is a mild inversion pose that build strength and stretches the whole body. It is essential to the Sun Salutation sequence and is often used many times throughout the yoga practice. This pose is very versatile; it can be used as a transitional pose, a strength builder and a resting pose.
Downward facing dog rejuvenates and energized the whole body. It holds the benefits of inversion poses, relieving headaches, insomnia, fatigue, and mild depression. It allows the flow of blood to the brain which allows the calming of the nervous system, improves memory and concentration, and relieves stress. Doing this pose regularly (in a regular yoga practice it will be done multiple times) will improve digestion, relieve back pain, and help to prevent osteoporosis. Additionally, it is widely believed that practicing downward facing dog is therapeutic for sinusitis, asthma, flat feet, and symptoms of menopause.
To do Downward facing dog, start on your hands and knees, making sure to have your hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips. Tuck your toes and begin to lift your knees off the mat, pushing your pelvis upward toward the ceiling. Gently being to straighten your legs (making sure not to lock your knees) and your arms (making sure not to lock your elbows). Bring your body into the shape of an “A”. Pressing on the floor, lift through your pelvis. As you begin to lengthen your spine, lift your sit bone towards the ceiling. Press down equally through the heels and your hands.