Foundations of Yoga: Downward Facing Dog

Each week on my blog, Youtube Channel, and Instagram I will be sharing a short tutorial on a yoga pose  – breaking the pose down from head to toe, with easy to understand alignment tips and some adjustments to help you improve or begin your yoga practice! 

The yoga pose of the week on Wellness with Alexandra is Downward Facing Dog!


Downward Facing Dog
{Adho Mukha Svanasana}


adho = downward / mukha = face / svana = dog

1. Strengthens hands, wrists, low-back, hamstrings, Achilles tendon, and calves
2. Elongated shoulders and shoulder blades
3. Decrease in back pain by strengthening the entire back
4. Decrease in tension and headaches by elongating the cervical spine and
neck and relaxing the head
5. Helps decrease and prevent anxiety

1. Begin on your hands and knees, with your hands shoulder-width apart and your knees hip-width apart. Press both hands firmly into the mat and spread fingers wide. Turn the inner eyes of your elbows forward and align your shoulders over your wrists. Your knees should be behind your sitting bones to maximize length in your torso and spine when you move into Downward Facing Dog.
2. On an exhale, slowly lift your knees off the mat and start to lift your hips. To begin, keep your knees bent and stretch your arms intensely to lengthen your torso. Press the mat away with your hands and open your shoulders, armpits, and chest.
3. If your hamstrings are tight make sure to keep a slight bend in your knees. This will help to open the shoulders and lengthens the spine without putting pressure on your lower back. If you're feeling more open, as you engage your quads start to straight your legs pressing your heels into the ground.
4. Maintain Downward Facing Dog and breathe freely through your nose. Stay for 20–25 breaths before coming down to rest in Childs Pose.

Foundations of Yoga - Downward Facing Dog - HOW TO.jpg

1. Make sure to maintain proper distance between your hands and feet. Both should be no wider or more narrow than shoulder-width and hip-width.
2. Do not turn out your hands. When you do, pressure goes into the outer wrists and you risk injury by destabilizing your hands.
3. Do not round or arch your lower back. Maintain the lift of your sitting bones and and the engagement of your core to create length in the spine.
4. Do not sink into shoulders, continuously move your shoulders back and down by pressing into the mat firmly with your hands.
5. Avoid a "high-heeled" Downward Facing Dog, try having a slight bend in your knees to bring your heels closer to the ground.