Forward Extensions

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Downward Facing Dog Pose, Svanasana
Level: All levels

Adho = downward. Mukha = face or mouth. Shvana = dog.

This can be classified as both a forward extension, as it is here, or as a standing pose, because of the use of the legs.

Organizing the pose

    • Come to all fours on your hands and knees.
    • Position the shoulders directly above the hands.
    • Bring the feet hip width apart and slide the knees back behind the hips.
    • Plant the palms firmly down and stretch the arms.
    • Exhale and straighten the legs, lifting the hips up and back.
    • Pull the thighs and heels back.
    • Release the head down.
    • Hold this position for several breaths.
    • To come out of the pose, exhale, bend the knees and come to the floor.

Practice Points

    • Spread the toes.
    • Lift the kneecaps and pull the thighs up and back.
    • Deepen the hip creases and spread the sitting bones.
    • If the legs or back are tight and it is not possible to tilt the pelvis forward so that the back does not round, bend the legs slightly.
    • Soften the lower abdomen and the pelvic floor (between the sitting bones).
    • Pull the hips away from the shoulders.
    • Draw the ribs away from the arms.
    • Spread the palms and lengthe then index fingers and thumbs.
    • Roll the weight into the index finger and thumbs.
    • Straighten the elbows.
    • Lift the upper arms.
    • Soften the shoulders.
    • Broaden the upper back.
    • Soften the neck and let the head hang down from between the shoulder blades.