Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Asana Type: Standing
Level: Beginner

Begin on your hands and knees. Spread your fingers wide and press firmly through the palms. Exhale has you tuck your toes and lift your knees of the floor. Press the floor away from you as you lift through your pelvis.

Props & Assistance:
Stand on the toes if it is difficult to get the heels to the ground.

Options for the arms:

  • Touching the ground in front of you
  • First two fingers hook the big toes
  • Reversed prayer
  • Clasped behind the back and lifting the arms up and over the head
  • Bring hands and crown of the head onto the ground. Lift the feet up into an inversion for a tripod headstand

Preparatory poses:
To do this pose you need to be open in the calves, knee flexors, hip extensors, elbows and shoulders. Good preparation poses to help this include:

  • Half forward bend
  • Standing forward bend
  • Cat stretch
  • Puppy pose
  • Cow
  • Eagle

You also need to have stability in the foot muscles, legs, hips back, stomach, arms and wrists. Poses that can help create this stability include:

  • Plank Pose
  • Low lunge
  • Cat stretch
  • Dolphin
  • Standing forward bend
  • Mountain

Follow up poses:
This pose prepares you for many key yoga poses including:

  • Standing poses
  • Arm balances
  • Inversions

Counter poses for this asana include:

  • Childs pose
  • Knees to chest
  • Legs up the wall
  • Supine twist


  • Calms the mind and helps relieve stress and mild depression
  • Energizes the body
  • Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves and hands
  • Strengthens the arms and legs
  • Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
  • Relieves menstrual discomfort
  • Helps prevent osteoporosis
  • Improves digestion
  • Relieves headache, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue
  • Therapeutic for high blood pressure, asthma, flat feet, sciatica, sinusitis


  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Diarrhea
  • High blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Pregnancy: Do not do this pose late-term due to risk of breech position
  • If you are thinking of starting yoga and have a medical condition, it is advisable to check with your doctor

Written by Sarah Williams. Sarah is a Qualified Yoga Teacher based in London with an online presence on Instagram and Facebook. She also blogs about yoga and health & wellbeing topics on her website. Sarah’s focus is Vinyasa Flow, Hatha and Ashtanga styles of yoga and she completed part of her yoga teacher training in India ., @sarahlucyyoga


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