Adho Mukha Śvānāsana or downward facing dog is one of the favorite pose of almost any yogi. For some practices, including vinyasa and ashtanga, it is considered a resting pose. It is a pose that holds so many places, considered an inversion, a seated pose, a forward fold, hip opener, etc. based on different aspects of the pose. There is also wonderful symbolism behind the pose,
“This asana represents the pivotal point at which the forces at which the forces of entropy and evolution are in perfect balance and harmony. Birth is followed by life, which is followed by decay and death, which is followed by life again” – (Gannon)
How to Practice
Start in table pose, exhale curling your toes under and bring your hips up and back. Your hands should be splayed out with fingers stretched, pushing the earth away. Have a straight line from your hands through your tail bone. Your pelvis should be tilted slightly, and your legs straight with heels working towards the earth, with feet pushing the earth away. Your body should be a V and less of a deep fold.
This pose is an overall body stretch, removes fatigue, rejuvenates body, lengthens the spine, rejuvenates disc, and increases circulation to the brain (Schiffmann). Students whom have wrists problems, experience dizziness, or light headed from this pose should stop practicing and take child’s pose.
As Adho Mukha Śvānāsana is considered a neutralizer there is not much need for counter poses. Although if you are working into the pose, start with puppy dog pose, move into table, then practice a few pelvic tilts in order to awaken the hips before practicing.
Adho Mukha Śvānāsana is also a wonderful pose to use as a reprieve during more intense flows. It will keep you more energized while resting during the flow.