Downfacing dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana – my favourite pose. Ill be honest, it used to be my least favourite pose, I hated it! Heres why, it was overused in flow classes, everyone else would be in down facing dog and I’d be lost somewhere in another a pose then Id be in down facing dog when everyone else was in something else, I never got the chance to feel its purpose or benefit, it used to drive me nuts.
However, when Dave teaches yoga he allows us to spend time in the pose, allowing us to feel the pose, experience the benefits and understand its purpose and positioning. Down facing dog lengthens the hamstrings and calves, lengthens the spine and opens the shoulders. Its also a great strengthening pose for the arms, shoulders and core, and achieves bone loading to help prevent osteoporosis too. To me its an all encompassing pose that can benefit so many people.
Runners and cyclists should definitely incorporate this pose into their stretch routine as should anybody who sits down all day at a desk. Shortened hamstrings through sitting or repetitive action sports can lead to lower back pain as the hamstring pull on the pelvis, changing the position of the spine putting strain on the muscles and desks of the back.
How to do the pose – start on all fours, tuck your toes under and lift your knees off the floor taking your bum towards the ceiling, press through the hands and look towards your toes. You can lighten the pose by keeping the knees bent or deepen the pose by straightening out the legs and gently pressing your heels towards the floor.
How often – you should aim to do this pose after every run/ bike ride or at least 3 times a week, holding the pose for 10 secs to start with building up to 30 secs.