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Downward Facing Dog | Adho Mukha Svanasana

Downward Facing Dog | Adho Mukha Svanasana

Downward Facing Dog | Adho Mukha Svanasana

adho = down; mukha = face; svana = dog; asana = posture

About the Pose

What’s not to love about a well-aligned Downward Facing Dog pose? It can build strength in the shoulder flexors and the muscles that stabilize the scapulae in their end range of upward rotation.

It can also increase range of motion in shoulder flexion by opening the extensors and adductors of the shoulder.

Range of motion in hip flexion can also be increased somewhat here, although the hips should already be able to be able to move into about 90 degrees of flexion before the full version of this pose is held, as limited hip flexion will cause excessive lumbar flexion.

Skilled placement of the bones of the shoulder girdle in Downward Facing Dog is an essential prerequisite to crowd pleasers like Upward Bow and bigger backbends with shoulder flexion; and Handstand and other inversions with shoulder flexion.

Asana Tech Specs

Overall Tapas Ratings

STHIRASUKHASVADHYAYA

Sthira / Strength: 3 of 5

unyielding, firm, hard, solid, compact, strong, fixed, immovable, motionless, still, calm, not wavering or tottering, steady, durable, constant, steadfast, resolute, persevering


Sukha / Range of Motion: 3 of 5

 yielding, ease, good space, a perfectly round axle hole

Svadhyaya / Knowledge: 3 of 5

study of the self


Practicing the Pose

Base Position

Base Position

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  • Hands shoulder-width apart with the crease of the wrist facing directly forward.
  • Fingers spread.
  • Feet hip-width apart and parallel. Balls of feet and, possibly heels on ground.
  • Distance from hands to feet such that hips are flexed at about 90 degrees.

1. Pre-Alignment: Stability Before Movement

Pre-Alignment

Table Pose | Prasthasana

Table Pose | Prasthasana

Align and Stabilize These Things

To find your Tapas Point, these things must not change position as you come into the pose.

  • Press down evenly through hands to engage wrist flexors as you resist the forearm forward, engaging wrist extensors.
  • Completely straighten elbows
  • Spine completely neutral in all three planes.
  • Position the pelvis so that the low back is in its natural curve.
  • Draw the floor of the pelvis toward the head and draw the sides of the waist in toward the midline to lengthen spine

2. Moving to the Tapas Point

The Tapas Point

The Tapas Point for this pose is that point where the legs are as straight as possible while lifting the spine away from the hands. The legs must be capable of lifting the pelvis away from the hands. If that is not possible, bend the knees as minimally as possible to achieve it.

The Vinyasa

  • Curl the toes under.
  • Root the inner hand as you seal the outer shoulder blade to the outer ribcage.
  • Use the legs to lift the pelvis away from the hands. Without externally rotating the hips, firmly press the thighbones away from the head.
  • Move the front and back of the pelvis evenly away from the head so that there is no rounding of the back or arching of the low back.

3. Working at the Tapas Point

Downward Facing Dog | Adho Mukha Svanasana

Downward Facing Dog | Adho Mukha Svanasana

Work Like This

  • Work to fully develop upward rotation of the scapulae. Bind the lateral borders of scapulae to the side ribs via serratus anterior. Move the inner border away from head and outer border presses toward the hands away from the waist.
  • Without externally rotating the hips, firmly press the thighbones away from the head. Move front and back of the pelvis evenly away from the head so that there is no rounding of the back or arching of the low back.
  • Press down through the heels as you lift the front thighs.
  • Root through the base of the thumbs as you roll the outer upper arm under toward the face.
  • Lengthen from the hands to the hips as you maintain space between the neck and arms.

4. Moving from the Tapas Point

Table Pose | Prasthasana

Table Pose | Prasthasana

The Vinyasa

  • Curl the toes under.
  • Root the inner hand as you seal the outer shoulder blade to the outer ribcage.
  • Use the legs to lift the pelvis away from the hands. Without externally rotating the hips, firmly press the thighbones away from the head.
  • Move the front and back of the pelvis evenly away from the head so that there is no rounding of the back or arching of the low back.
Vertebral Column

Lumbar Vertebrae / Lower Back

  • Coronal Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1
  • Sagittal Plane: Slight Flexion
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 3, Svadhyaya: 1
  • Transverse Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1

Thoracic Vertebrae / Upper Back

  • Coronal Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1
  • Sagittal Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 3, Sukha: 3, Svadhyaya: 1
  • Transverse Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1

Cervical Vertebrae / Neck

  • Coronal Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1
  • Sagittal Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1
  • Transverse Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1
Upper Appendicular Skeleton

Scapulothoracic Joint / Shoulder blade

Multiple Planes: Upward Rotation
Sthira: 3, Sukha: 3, Svadhyaya: 4

Glenohumeral Joint / Shoulder Joint

  • Coronal Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1
  • Sagittal Plane: Flexion
    Sthira: 2, Sukha: 3, Svadhyaya: 2
  • Transverse Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 2

Humeroulnar Joint / Elbow

  • Coronal Plane: Not applicable.
    The humeroulnar joint does not normally move in the coronal plane.
  • Sagittal Plane: Extension
    Sthira: 2, Sukha: 2, Svadhyaya: 2
  • Transverse Plane: Not applicable.
    The humeroulnar joint does not normally move in the transverse plane.

Proximal + Distal Radioulnar Joints / Forearm

  • Coronal Plane: Not applicable.
    The humeroulnar joint does not normally move in the coronal plane.
  • Sagittal Plane: Not applicable.
    The humeroulnar joint does not normally move in the coronal plane.
  • Transverse Plane: Pronation
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1

Wrist Area (Multiple Joints)

  • Coronal Plane: Not Applicable
    The wrist area rarely moves, in asana, in the coronal plane.
  • Sagittal Plane: Dorsiflexion
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1
  • Transverse Plane: Not Applicable
    The wrist area does not normally move in the transverse plane, except for forearm rotation initiated at the distal radioulnar joint (the elbow).

Fingers (Multiple Joints)

  • Coronal Plane: Adduction
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1
  • Sagittal Plane: Extension
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1
  • Transverse Plane: Not Applicable
    The fingers do not normally move in the transverse plane.
Lower Appendicular Skeleton

Acetabulofemoral Joint / Hip

  • Coronal Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1
  • Sagittal Plane: Flexion
    Sthira: 2, Sukha: 2, Svadhyaya: 2
  • Transverse Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1

Tibiofemoral Joint / Knee

  • Coronal Plane: Not Applicable
    The tibiofemoral joint does not normally move in the coronal plane
  • Sagittal Plane: Extension
    Sthira: 2, Sukha: 3, Svadhyaya: 2
  • Transverse Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1

The Talocrural Joint / Ankle

  • Coronal Plane: Not Applicable
    The talocrural joint does not move substantially, in asana, in the coronal plane.
  • Sagittal Plane: Dorsiflexion
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 2, Svadhyaya: 1
  • Transverse Plane: Not Applicable
    The talocrural joint does not move substantially, in asana, in the coronal plane

Foot (Multiple Joints)

  • Coronal Plane: Not Applicable
    The foot does not move substantially, in asana, in the coronal plane.
  • Sagittal Plane: Not Applicable
    The foot does not move substantially, in asana, in the sagittal plane.
  • Transverse Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 2
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