Blog, Postures, Yoga, Yoga Postures

Downward-Facing Dog: Animal Yoga Pose Series

As veterinary professionals our lives and careers usually revolve around animals, so what better place to start VetYogi written yoga tutorials than with a series based around the poses inspired by the animals that we love?! I’m starting with Downward-facing Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana, for those of you who prefer the Sanskrit names, as it is such an important foundation posture. So here goes…

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Learn from the experts! Peter Pan shows us how it’s done…

ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA

Level 1: Beginner

Benefits:

  • Lengthening and stretching of the back body
  • Expansion of the chest
  • Calming of the nervous system
  • Strengthening of the upper body

Contraindications/Cautions (consult your physician):

  • Back/neck/shoulder/wrist injuries
  • High blood pressure
  • Glaucoma
Neutral spine in all fours
Begin by finding a neutral spine from an all fours position: wrists under shoulders, knees under hips, keep your neck neutral

Start from all fours:

1). Inhale. Spread weight evenly through the hands, with the middle finger pointing forwards and the shoulders laterally rotated.

2). Exhale and tuck toes under. With knees bent draw the hips up and back, pushing the floor away to create a ‘V’ shape. Do not lock the elbows.

3). Lift hips up to fully straighten the spine, and allow the neck and head to be relaxed.

4). Only if possible, straighten the legs by gently pushing the thighs back, and allowing the weight in the heels to extend down towards the floor.

5). Either inhale back to all fours and repeat, or stay up for a few rounds of breath, allowing for expansion with your inhales and lengthening with your exhales, and then come back down on an inhale.

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The focus is on a straight spine so keep knees bent and heels can be off the floor as required

NOTES:

  • The aim of this posture is to lengthen the spine, so it does not matter if your heels do not touch the floor, a straight spine is more important!
  • If you feel pressure on the wrists you can roll up the front of your yoga mat for padding. Maintain a sense of lifting up from your hips to lessen the pressure.
  • Use a bolster or rolled up blanket under your heels to deepen the posture if your feet don’t touch the floor, ONLY after mastering the straight spine element.
HC DWFD
Lift hips upwards and back and gently lower heels towards the floor if you can

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