Adho mukha svanasana

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Downward-facing dog

Adho Mukha Svanasana Sanskrit: अधोमुखश्वानासन; IAST: Adho Mukha Śvānāsana), downward-facing dog pose (variously abbreviated),[1][2][3] is an asana in modern yoga, often practised as part of a flowing sequence of poses, especially Surya Namaskar, the Salute to the Sun.[4]

Etymology and origins[edit]

The name comes from the Sanskrit words adhas (अधस्) meaning 'down', mukha (मुख) meaning 'face', śvāna (श्वान) meaning 'dog',[4] and āsana (आसन) meaning 'posture' or 'seat'.[5]

The posture is similar to Gajāsana (elephant pose) in the 18th century Hațhābhyāsapaddhati; the description calls for the pose to be repeated "over and over again" from a prone position.[6] Adho Mukha Svanasana is not described in the medieval hatha yoga texts, but it, together with a 5-count format and a method of jumps between poses resembling Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga's system, was described in Niels Bukh's early 20th century Danish text Primitive Gymnastics, which in turn was derived from a 19th century Scandinavian tradition of gymnastics; the system had arrived in India by the 1920s. Indian gymnastics, too, had a system of postures, called "dands" (from Sanskrit danda, a staff), linked by jumps, and one of the dands is close to Adho Mukha hvanasana. The dand exercises were not considered to be yoga in the 1930s. Swami Kuvalayananda incorporated the pose into his system of exercises in the early 1930s, from where it was taken up by his pupil the influential yoga teacher Tirumalai Krishnamacharya.[7][8]


The pose has the head down, ultimately touching the floor, the weight of the body on the palms and the feet. The arms are stretched straight forward, shoulder width apart; the feet are a foot apart, the legs are straight, and the hips are raised as high as possible.[9]

The pose is approached differently in different schools of yoga. In Iyengar Yoga, the pose can be entered from a prone position, with the hands beside the chest, setting the distance between hands and feet.[9] In schools such as Sivananda Yoga, the pose is practised as part of Surya Namaskar, the Salute to the Sun, for example following Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Dog Pose) by exhaling, curling the toes under, and raising the hips.[10] In the Bihar School of Yoga, the pose is named Parvatasana, Mountain Pose, the hands and feet somewhat closer to each other so that the angle at the hips is sharper; it is entered from a lunge (Ashwa Sanchalanasana) in a variant of Surya Namaskar.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Downward-Facing Dog". Yoga Journal. Archived from the original on 7 March 2011. Retrieved 4 September 2011.
  2. ^ VanEs, Howard Allan (12 November 2002). Beginning Yoga: A Practice Manual. p. 163. ISBN 978-0-9722094-0-3.
  3. ^ Calhoun, Yael; Calhoun, Matthew R. (June 2006). Create a Yoga Practice for Kids: Fun, Flexibility, And Focus. Sunstone Press. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-86534-490-7.
  4. ^ a b "Adho Mukha Shvanasana". Ashtanga Yoga. Archived from the original on 23 April 2011. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  5. ^ Sinha, S. C. (1996). Dictionary of Philosophy. Anmol Publications. p. 18. ISBN 978-81-7041-293-9.
  6. ^ Mallinson & Singleton 2017, pp. 95, 124.
  7. ^ Singleton, Mark (4 February 2011). "The Ancient & Modern Roots of Yoga". Yoga Journal.
  8. ^ Singleton 2010, pp. 200-206.
  9. ^ a b Iyengar 1979, pp. 110-111.
  10. ^ Lidell 1983, pp. 34-35.
  11. ^ Saraswati 2003, p. 166.


External links[edit]