Adho mukha śvānāsana

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Downward-facing dog

Adho mukha śvānāsana, adho mukha shvanasana[1] (IPA: [əd̪ʱoː mukʰə ɕʋɑːn̪ɑːs̪ən̪ə];[2] Sanskrit: अधोमुखश्वानासन; IAST: Adho Mukha Śvānāsana), downward-facing dog pose,[3] downward dog,[4] or down dog[5] is an asana.


The name comes from the Sanskrit words adhas (अधस्) meaning 'down', mukha (मुख) meaning 'face', śvāna (श्वान) meaning 'dog',[1] and āsana (आसन) meaning 'posture' or 'seat'.[6]

Anatomical focus[edit]

  • Primary muscles:
  • Secondary muscles (synergists/stabilizers):


The preparatory position is with the hands and knees on the floor, hands under the shoulders, fingers spread wide, knees under the hips and typically about seven inches (17 cm) apart, with the spine straightened and relaxed.

On a deep exhale, the hips are pushed toward the ceiling, the body forming an inverted V-shape. The back is straight with the front ribs tucked in. The legs are straight with the heels reaching to the floor. The hands are open like starfish, keeping the forefinger and thumb pressing down on the floor/mat. The arms are straight, with the inner elbows turning towards the ceiling. If one has the tendency to hyper extend elbows, keeping a microbend to the elbows prevents taking the weight in the joints. Turning the elbows up towards the ceiling will engage the triceps and build strength. The shoulders are wide and relaxed. Line up the ears with the inner arms which keeps the neck lengthened. The hands are shoulder width apart and feet remain hip-width apart. If the hamstrings are very strong or tight, the knees are bent to allow the spine to lengthen fully. The navel is drawn in towards the spine, keeping the core engaged.

The hips move up and back. Focus is on the breath while holding the asana, with deep, steady inhalation and exhalation creating a flow of energy through the body. On an exhale, the practitioner releases onto the hands and knees and rests in balasana.


BKS Iyengar, one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world, asserts that this asana stretches the shoulders, legs, spine and whole body; builds strength throughout the body, particularly the arms, legs, and feet; relieves fatigue and rejuvenates the body; improves the immune system, digestion and blood flow to the sinuses, and calms the mind and lifts the spirits.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Adho Mukha Shvanasana". Archived from the original on 23 April 2011. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  2. ^ Budilovsky, Joan; Adamson, Eve (1 January 1998). The complete idiot's guide to yoga. Alpha Books. p. 216. ISBN 978-0-02-861949-1. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  3. ^ "Downward-Facing Dog". Archived from the original on 7 March 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-09.
  4. ^ VanEs, Howard Allan (12 November 2002). Beginning Yoga: A Practice Manual. p. 163. ISBN 978-0-9722094-0-3. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
  5. ^ 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. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
  6. ^ Sinha, S.C. (1 June 1996). Dictionary of Philosophy. Anmol Publications PVT. LTD. p. 18. ISBN 978-81-7041-293-9. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
  7. ^ a b "Downward-facing dog". American Council on Exercise. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
  8. ^ Iyengar, B. K. S. (1 October 2005). Illustrated Light On Yoga. HarperCollins. p. 57. ISBN 978-81-7223-606-9. Retrieved 8 April 2011.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]