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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Downward Dog Yoga Pose - Adho Mukha Svanasana

By H. Sulanti

The Dog pose or the Adho mukha Svanasana, when performed looks very much like a dog whose forelimbs and head are in a rested position while the hind limbs are pointed upwards. In Sanskrit "Svana" means dog, "adho" means downward and "mukha" means face, hence the name Downward facing dog pose.

Step by Step

The hands should be placed directly beneath the shoulders on the floor and the knees directly beneath the hips. The fingers should be spread out with the middle finger pointing straight ahead. One should make sure that the back is horizontal and straight.

One should take care not to drop the shoulders during this asana position. Create a flow of energy through each of the arms to the respective shoulders to maintain the position. Repeat this several times to get a proper feel of the position. Once you are ready to start, inhale deeply. Breathe out along with turning the hips into a cat tilt. This should be done gently by pulling the abdominal muscles towards the spine. Gently contract the buttocks and tuck the tail bone inwards. Press the floor with the hands and also lift the back upwards towards the roof by rounding the spine upwards.

Move the head inwards. If possible place the crown of the head on the floor. If you are not able to place the crown on the floor, then leave the head hanging inwards. Gaze should be fixed between the knees.

The next step is the straightening of the elbows and the extending of the back. The legs should be straight if you are able, that is the knees are without any bend. Take a deep breath while turning your hip into a Dog tilt. Slowly, release the grip of the hips and reverse the dog tilt. The spine should be curved to resemble a smoothly arched backend. Then reverse so that your body resembles an unside down V. Now Hold in the upside down V position. At first this will be difficult but after long practice this upside down V will turn into a resting postion.

Benefits

The Dog Pose or the Adho Mukha Svanasana is a wonderful yoga pose which provides tranquillity while grounding and rejuvenating ones whole being. It relieves one of minor back aches, strengthens most of the parts of the body. This Asana pose stretches the entire back side of the body, hence strengthening the arms, shoulders, hips, hamstrings, calves as well as Achilles tendon. It also opens up the chest and improves the functioning of the respiratory system. This pose alleviate fatigue and stress. The lengthening of the spine in this pose rejuvenates each and every disc of the spine. The position also improves the blood circulation to the brain.