The face down dog position of Adho Mukha Svanasana is a yoga classic. It's a complete position that links up many asanas. It refers to a dog stretching out with his front legs. Adho means "down", Mukha "snout" and "Svana" the dog. It's a clever mix of opening up the back, stretching the hamstrings and deep work on relaxing the diaphragm, this asana has fantastic effects if it is practiced on a regular basis. One of its fundamental principles is to induce both stretching and relaxation of the diaphragm, two movements which allow to find true relaxation.
The benefits of the position
With this position, you can enjoy the benefits of balancing positions (power and stability), bending forwards (relaxation and appeasement) and inverted positions, by regenerating cells and irrigating the brain. Face down dog opens up the shoulders and reinforces to the top of the back, it's an excellent way to prepare for inverted positions. You stretch both your hamstrings and calves. Small tip: If you feel some stiffness in the legs: bend your knees in order to keep the length from the top of the skull to the tailbone. Finally and most importantly, you deeply soothe your soul and grow your strength. Stretching the chest, diaphragm along with slow, deep breathing, slows the heart rate. Total release of the head, the trapezius and the skin of the forehead, calms the mind and relaxes.
The correct position
- relax and soothe the spirit.
- stretches the body and especially the back
- Strengthens the arms, shoulders and relaxes the hamstrings.
- Performing the exercise: Position yourself on all fours. The hands are laid flat (fingers are open) parallel, in line with the shoulders. Feet are hip-width apart, in alignment with the hands. Get up on tiptoes then slowly push your hips upwards extending your arms and legs. The ischia is raised skywards. With your hands, take small steps forward to extend the spine little by little. Feet must be flat on the floor. The head remains down.
- Breathing: adopt calm, deep breathing.
- Safety instructions: remember to turn your shoulders outwards to free up the space between the shoulder blades. The forearms come away from the ground and naturally the spine goes into a neutral position. Tuck in the lower ribs for the duration of the exercise.
- Repetition: If you're just starting out, hold the position for 30 to 40 seconds only. For those who can hold the position, be aware of the relaxation of the abdominal mass on the diaphragm, the release of the tongue...
- Final stages of pregnancy
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Shoulder dislocation
- Headaches, problems related to the eyes or teeth (the blood flows in these areas)
- Hypertension: in this case rest your head on a brick
- Cardiac disorders
Do not hesitate to seek the advice of your doctor in case of doubt.