Downward Facing Dog

Adho=Downward Mukha=Face Svan=Dog Asana=Pose

Downward Facing Dog Pose

“Downward Dog is an asana no yoga student ever outgrows. It’s the garlic of yoga- a panacea for whatever ails you, which combines the benefits of an inversion, arm balance, forward bend & restorative pose all rolled into one.” Donna Farhi


  • Intense stretch for the backs of your legs, especially your calves
  • Open the hips
  • Rest the heart
  • Strengthens wrists, arms, & shoulders
  • Elongates the spine
  • Releases tension throughout the entire spinal column


There are many ways to enter this pose. For me, the easiest & most mindful entrance is through child’s pose (pranatasana). Begin with your bottom resting on your heels & extend your arms out in front of you. Take a moment to notice your hands, begin by walking them away from you & then spread your fingers wide. Take a breath & feel the stretch in your arms & shoulders. As you exhale come up on your hands & knees (all fours). Before moving into the pose fine tune your alignment, hands beneath shoulders, arms shoulder width apart, & knees beneath your hips, hip width apart. From here, curl you toes under, inhale do nothing, exhale & straighten your legs. Breath. Be mindful of your sacrum, allow it to drop towards your heels. Your legs & your breath (active exhale) will act to release your sacrum. Allow yourself the freedom to move with your breath. As the body lets go of tension movement is restored in the body. As you inhale, relax. As you exhale, take your abdomen back towards the front of your spine (active exhale), press into your hands (heels & fingers), send your weight back into your legs, & finally reach your heels towards the earth. Relax your head & neck. Enjoy J

No worries or concerns if your heels are not touching the ground. Allow your body to release when it’s ready. Be patient & breath. To encourage this release you may want to try doing Down Dog with your heels against the wall. Do not force or strain the body to go where it is not willing to go naturally.

To come out of the pose gently return your knees to your mat & rest in child’s pose.


  • Walk the dog
  • Wall dog
  • One leg down dog
  • One leg up the wall
  • Dog with a block b/w the inner thighs (opens SI joints)
  • Elbow dog
  • Wide leg dog
  • Dog with heels to wall

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Jessie Li

    Professor Phillips, downward facing dog is the so far my favorite pose during yoga practice. It is such a great pose for the stretching of the arms and hamstrings. Especially hamstrings for me. However, at first I wasn’t so fond of it at first. I felt it was very hard to go with the pressure for the arms for a long time. However, as I practiced I felt that my arms’ strength greatly increased.

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