Downward Facing Dog

adho mukha shvanasana

(AH-doh MOO-kah shva-NAH-sun-uh)


1. From Table position, tuck the toes under, press into the hands and begin to lift the hips up towards the ceiling.

2. Spread the fingers wide apart with the middle finger facing forward, and the palms shoulder width apart. Press the out through the fingers and edges of the hands.

3. Using straight (but not locked) arms, press the hips up and back reaching the chest towards the thighs. Lift up through the tailbone to keep the spine straight and long.

4. Have the feet are hip’s width apart with the toes facing forward. Press the heels into the floor feeling a stretch in the back of the legs. The legs are straight, or you can have a small bend at the knees to keep the back flat.

5. Let the head and neck hang freely from the shoulders or look up at the belly button.

6. Breathe and hold for 2-6 breaths.

7. To release: bend the knees and lower the hips back to Table position, or come all the way down to child pose.

Benefits + Contraindications

Benefits: Downward facing dog deeply stretches the back, opens the chest, and builds upper body strength. This posture stimulates the brain and nervous system, improving memory, concentration, hearing and eyesight.

Contraindications: Recent or chronic injury to the back, hips, arms or shoulders, unmediated high blood pressure.

Modifications + Variations

Modifications:  A) Use blocks under the hands or head. B) Place a folded towel under the wrists. C) Press both heels against a wall.

Variations: Dolphin pose, One Leg Down Dog, Down Dog Twist.


Use one or more of the following postures to build a sequence leading up to this pose: Table, Cat, Dog, Tiger.

Use one or more of the following postures to build a sequence ending after this pose: Plank, Upward Facing Dog, Child, High Lunge.

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5 responses to “Downward Facing Dog”

  1. Tapomay Avatar

    These yoga postures are very much useful from top to bottom of a person like other yogas.

  2. Lois French Avatar
    Lois French

    I’ve been told these type of exercises would be beneficial to my scoliosis.
    Having trouble with my legs and feet.

  3. Rita Tanau Avatar
    Rita Tanau

    Downward Facing Dog is my favorite yoga pose. These photos are beautiful and these instructions are perfect.

  4. Maria Valentin Avatar
    Maria Valentin

    Downward Facing Dog pose is such a fantastic way to let go of stress and tension! This is an amazing way to work out those kinks in your back.

  5. Abigail Hayes Avatar
    Abigail Hayes

    Downward Facing Dog is one of my favorite yoga poses! It not only stretches the back and opens the chest, but it also builds strength in the upper body. I’m definitely going to try the variations of Downward Facing Dog, like Dolphin pose and One Leg Down Dog. It’ll add some fun and challenge to my practice.

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