Downward Facing Dog

Adho Mukha Svanasana

I have presented this yoga pose in three phases. As a beginner, you may need to stay in Phase 1 or Phase 2 for quite some time – weeks, months or even years. Do not be discouraged by this. Please keep practicing regularly and enjoy the pose in whatever modified version you can do today. Use caution as you move through the phases. Pay attention to your body and do not allow yourself to feel pain. If you feel pain, back out of the pose slightly until the pain is no longer present.

Phase 1


1. Come onto your hands and knees, with your knees directly under you hips and your hands slightly in front of the shoulders.
2. Place each hand firmly on a block. Caution! Be sure your blocks grip well to the mat and will not slip! If your blocks do not grip firmly, place the blocks up against a wall to prevent them from moving forward while you are in the pose.
3. Exhale and slowly bring the knees off the floor. Come onto the toes with the heels off the floor and keep the knees bent.
4. Press the hands into the blocks firmly. As much as possible, try to straighten the spine so that there is a straight line from the sitting bones to the tips of the fingers.
5. Hollow the belly (pull it in) and tilt the sitting bones up towards the ceiling. Be careful in this pose. You are putting an extreme amount of weight on the wrists and shoulders. If you feel pain, please back out of the pose until the pain is gone.
6. Take a few long, deep breaths in this pose. If possible, hold the pose for up to 1 minute.

Phase 2


1. Come onto your hands and knees, with your knees directly under you hips and your hands slightly in front of the shoulders.
2. Spread the hand wide so all five fingers are stretched out and firmly on the floor.
3. Exhale and slowly bring the knees off the floor. Come onto the toes with the heels off the floor and keep the knees bent.
4. Press the hands into the blocks firmly. As much as possible, try to straighten the spine so that there is a straight line from the sitting bones to the tips of the fingers.
5. Hollow the belly (pull it in) and tilt the sitting bones up towards the ceiling. Be careful in this pose. You are putting an extreme amount of weight on the wrists and shoulders. If you feel pain, please back out of the pose until the pain is gone.
6. Take a few long, deep breaths in this pose. If possible, hold the pose for up to 1 minute.

Phase 3


1. Come onto your hands and knees, with your knees directly under you hips and your hands slightly in front of the shoulders.
2. Spread the hand wide so all five fingers are stretched out and firmly on the floor.
3. Exhale and slowly bring the knees off the floor. Come onto the toes and bend the knees.
4. Press the hands into the blocks firmly. As much as possible, try to straighten the spine so that there is a straight line from the sitting bones to the tips of the fingers.
6. Straighten the legs and bring the heels to the floor as much as possible. As much as possible, your body should be in a wide upside down V.
7. Hollow the belly (pull it in) and tilt the sitting bones up towards the ceiling. Be careful in this pose. You are putting an extreme amount of weight on the wrists and shoulders. If you feel pain, please back out of the pose until the pain is gone.
8. Take a few long, deep breaths in this pose. If possible, hold the pose for up to 1-5 minutes.

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