ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA
Foot to Hip : Find neutral alignment. Feet around hip width, drawing heels downward.
Knee : Find adequate stretch down the back of legs, soften to slacken.
Spine : Find length & balance.
Shoulder to Hand : Find stability and support.
Adho Mukha Svanasana is translated ('Adhas' - down, 'mukha' - face, 'svana' - dog and 'asana' pose). The pose is named as such as it resembles a dog stretching, burrowing its face downwards. Symbolically, the dog represents companionship, loyalty and unconditional love. A yoga practice could be encouraged to meditate on these qualities.
Downdog is great for lengthening the back body, particularly stretching the hamstrings and calves and arches of the feet. Depending on the individual and how they are practicing, downdog opens the shoulders, chest and arms whilst strengthening them.
Downdog is part of the Sun Salutation and Vinyasa Sequence, it can be used to transition into many postures from kneeling to standing to prone, even hop through to sit, therefore it is a primary pose in flowing classes.
Because of its effects on the body, it can be used to prepare for deeper back body stretches such as Split variations or to prepare for shoulder flexion postures such us Dolphin, Forearm balance, Upward Bow. Downdog is a mild inversion so could be used to prep for, or as a modification for other more advanced inversions. Inversions are great for changing perspective.
Foot to Hip : Inward/outward rotation. Raise on to toes. Widen/narrow stance. Hip hikes/twists.
Knee : Pedal legs. Squat.
Spine : Cat Cow. Side bends. Twist.
Shoulder to Hand : Inward/outward rotation. Raise on to fingertips. Widen/narrow hands. Elevate/depress shoulders. Flex shoulders to max / back off.
Long or narrow Dog.
- Perform kneeling (Puppy Dog) Reduces stretch in the back body. Is less weight bearing on the shoulders and so potentially allows further opening of the shoulders.
- Drop onto forearms (Dolphin pose) instead of being on the hands.
One leg raised, hip neutral, knee extended. Further stretch the supporting leg whilst working the raised leg against gravity.
One leg raised with outward rotation, knee extended (straight) or flexed (bent). Adds an additional stretch to the supporting inner thigh and raised leg hip flexors, whilst working the raised leg including glutes to rotate hip and hamstrings to flex the knee.
One arm threaded through, rotating spine. Increases intensity on the supporting arm, requires more stability including core and provides an additional stretch to the sides.