Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)

Doing the downward facing dog, step by step:

  • Come to your hands and knees; wrists under the shoulders, with their creases parallel. Spread the fingers wide and ground the fingers, palms and the heels of the hands, into the mat.
  • With the feet hip-width, take the knees back 2 short steps, curl the toes, and lift the knees.
  • Stretch the ribs towards the sitting bones and the sitting bones away from the wrists.
  • Hug the muscles of the arms and thighs firmly to the bones.
  • Keep the elbow creases reasonably parallel. Be aware of your arms; do not allow either bending of elbows outward or inward.
  • Roll the shoulders back, away from the ears and towards the hips.
  • Drawing the sit bones back, inner thighs back, knee caps back, press the heels back and down.
  • Keep the face and throat soft.
  • Work with the breath. Let inhalations gently open the heart area and with exhalations suck in to the back, the lower belly and groin.

With regular and continuous practice as advocated by Patanjali (refer to this issue’s sutra under “Going to the Roots’), Down dog will help improve all your other postures as well, such as forward bends, hand stand, head stand etc.
And along with the improved length which the posture grants, may the chest opening quality also broaden your heart to others, lift your spirits and help you maintain a positive outlook on your life.