Adho Mukha Savasana
Or simply downward dog as it is more popularly known and is in fact one of the foundational poses we learn. It is part of a sequence during a vinyasa flow, sun salutation or a resting pose by itself. I personally love to use it as a resting pose, for about five to ten breaths. It helps me to come back to the present moment, get centred and have a sense of how my body is feeling. I believe it is from foundational poses like Adho Mukha Savasana that we get the most benefits from. It works on most or all of the major parts of our bodies, from head to toe.
Benefits of Adho Mukha Savasana are:
- it acts as an inversion, allowing more blood flow to the brain enables one to be energised and more focused
- stretches the hamstrings and calves, this will release any tightness in the back of the legs
- strengthens the arms, staying in this pose for a period of time can be challenging in the beginning, however overtime once the arms strengthen remaining in this pose will be brisk
- lengthens the spine, this releases any tightness in the back and improves posture
- improves digestion and strengthens abdominal muscles, it allows food to be digested quicker improving metabolism and allowing smooth bowel movement
Though practicing yoga has its benefits, we must also practice it with caution and safety. It is highly recommended that practitioners with the following conditions to consult a medical physician before coming to this pose:
- high blood pressure
- a detached retina
- a dislocated shoulder
- weak eye capillaries
As stated Adho Mukha Savasana is an inversion pose, as blood flows upwards to the brain, it causes an increase in pressure. If a practitioner has uncontrolled hypertension, this may cause an increase in blood pressure causing damage to the eyes. Coming to this pose also requires arm strength, so it is important to ensure practitioner is free from any sort of injury to the arms.
In any pose, alignment is key, though many times we are told to do what feels good for the body. If the pose feels good for the body compromising on the alignment, we may be doing more harm than good. Hence, my recommendation is to work on the correct alignment and modify accordingly to ease off any discomfort.
How to be in Adho Mukha Savasana:
- Come on all four limbs, with palms and feet rooted firmly on the mat
- Straighten elbows and knees, forming a ‘V’ with your body
- Keeping hands in line with shoulders and feet in line with hips
- Lengthen your neck, ears touching your inner arms and bring your gaze in between your legs or navel
- Take slow deep breaths in and out, as you exhale, squeeze belly into the spine, giving your spine the extra support
In event of tightness in hips, hamstrings and calves, go ahead and bend those knees. And if unable to straighten the arms, place a folded blanket or blocks underneath the palms. Remember is not a necessity to have both feet rooted on the mat, overtime practice will eventually lead to that. Think about lengthening the spine and stay in the pose for three to five breaths.