Alignment Tips for Downward-Facing Dog

One of the most recognised yoga poses (and our favourite at Hot Dog Yoga) is Adho Mukha Svanasana (adho = downward, mukha = face, svana = dog, asana = pose). Here are some alignment tips to take your practice to the next level:

Keep Hands are shoulder width apart with the fingers spread wide. Firm your hands down, pressing through the outer edges of the palm and the finger tips - imagine clawing into the ground to create a little suction cup of air in the middle of your palm (Hasta Bandha). The fold of the wrists should be parallel with the top edge of your mat, middle finger facing forward.

Feel as though your thumbs want to draw in magnetically towards each other, which will slightly rotate your forearms inwards, towards each other. The upper arms externally rotate to keep your shoulders away from your ears, giving more space in the neck.

Feet are hip width apart and slightly turned in so that the outer edges of the feet are parallel to the sides of the mat - you shouldn’t be able to see your ankles when you look between the legs. Heels are pressing towards the floor – they don’t need to reach the floor so avoid walking your feet closer to your hands for this purpose. Starting in high plank with the shoulders above the wrists and keeping the hands and feet planted is a good distance for downward facing dog.

Engage your quadriceps. Roll your upper thighs inward as you firm the outer thighs. Keep your knees initially bent to lengthen the spine, taking the hips up and away from you. Then if possible straighten the legs, while maintaining the length in the spine.

Firm your shoulder blades against your back, then widen them and draw them toward the tailbone. Lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling.

If you are very flexible, do not let your rib cage sink toward the floor. Engage the lower belly by drawing the navel in towards the spine. Draw the lower ribs in and keep this core activation going throughout the pose.

Align your ears with your upper arms. Relax your head, but do not let it dangle. Gaze between your legs or toward your navel.

So, what do you think…do you like, loathe, or LOVE this pose?