As a yoga beginner it is important you take your time to learn the basic yoga postures before attempting more advanced poses. The Downward Facing Dog Pose, also known as Adho Mukha Svanasana in Sanskrit is one of the basic standing poses to master.
Downward Facing Dog forms the basis of many yoga sequences, and is used as one of the interlinking poses in the Sun Salutation. As a yoga beginner you can feel quite overwhelmed by the variety and range of yoga poses available. Have you ever peeped into a yoga class and felt daunted by the fact that everyone looked so supple and accomplished? Or flicked through a yoga book and wished you too could bend and twist your body into shape?
Benefits of Downward Facing Dog Pose
Downward Facing Dog gives an intense stretch to the back of the legs, especially the calves. It helps to develop and balance upper and lower body strength and gives a deep stretch along the entire spine. So you feel rejuvenated and refreshed. In this pose the head is low which increases the blood flow to the brain and reduces tiredness.
It can be quite a demanding pose, especially if your arms are weak but with regular practice you soon build up strength and endurance in your upper body muscles.
1. Begin the Downward Facing Dog Pose in the Cat pose - resting on your hands and knees with your knees directly under your hips and your hands in line with your shoulders, fingers pointing forwards. Keep your fingers pressed against the mat and gently spread them wide. Your back is parallel to the floor. Tuck your toes under.
2. Inhale and as you exhale, press your palms into the mat and slowly straighten your legs, lifting your buttocks towards the ceiling. Keep your palms "rooted" to the mat, stretching the middle fingers forwards. Stay high on your toes as you lower your heels to the ground.
4. Drop your head down, chin towards your chest and move your chest towards your thighs. Relax your shoulders, creating space between your ears and shoulders. Keep stretching/pushing your weight back into your legs, stretching the length of your spine. Make sure your feet stay parallel, facing forward as you continue to press your heels down firmly.
3. Stay in the pose for 3 - 10 rounds of deep yogic breathing.
4. Gently relax and lower your knees back down to the floor. Then come into a comfortable seated position.
Gentler Variation/Children's Yoga
1. If you suffer from back back pain or if your back feels strained in this pose, please keep your knees bent slightly and move your body closer to your legs.
2. If practicing Downward Facing Dog with children, it is always fun to encourage children to cock their leg like a dog or even to "bark and woof" as they come into the poses. adults might like to try woofing as well:)
At all times listen to your body and pay careful attention to your breath.
As a yoga beginner, practice the Downward Facing Dog at least 3 times a week at home. As you gain more confidence and suppleness in your body, you will soon be able to stay longer in the pose.
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