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Yoga Postures

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Featured Posture

Common name: Downward-facing dog

Sanskrit: Adho Mukha Svanasana

English: adho=down; mukha=face; svana=dog; asana=pose

Level: Beginner  

Photo Credits:

Left: Frederica Paniche

Right: Denise Balioz



  • Start in kneeling, with knees hip-distance apart, toes tucked under and hands slightly forward from the shoulders. Spread the fingers, with the middle finger forward. Press slightly into the finger ends to create a space between the palms and the floor.
  • On an exhale, draw the knees away from the floor, keeping them bent. Work on sending the sit bones upward.
  • Rotate shoulders outward, creating a lengthening movement from the finger tips to the sit bones. Check that the inner elbows are still facing each other. The head is in neutral, with the neck long
  • Continue to breathe from the finger tips to the sit bones, focussing on lengthening the back. Begin to take the bend out of the knees, working slowly and not compromising the long back. The heels may draw closer to the ground, but let this happen gently, perhaps over many sessions, as the hamstrings lengthen. Hold the pose for 5 breaths, perhaps extending this over time
  • To come out of the pose, drop the knees to the floor and draw back into balasana, child's pose, with arms either side of the body.
  • This pose becomes more accessible over time, work slowly and use props to support, for example placing a block under the hands. Try the pose with hands resting on a steady chair, or against a wall
  • Benefits

  • lengthens and strengthens back muscles
  • builds suppleness in shoulder muscles
  • stretches hamstrings and calf muscles
  • strengthens arms and legs
  • calms and settles the mind
  • energising the body
  • can reduce tension, tiredness
  • can relieve sciatica.
  • Contraindications and Cautions

  • Wrist or hand problems (try padding the heels of the hands, or adopt the forearm version)
  • headache and migraine
  • high blood pressure
  • late pregnancy
  • stomach upsets
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