Move-It Monday~Yoga Pose: Down Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

The pose everybody’s heard of and no one knows if they are “doing it right”!  Based on individual bodies and builds, Down Dog can look very different student to student.  While Down Dog often feels very strenuous to new yogis, this pose does become a resting pose where you can collect your breath and reconnect your breath, body and mind before moving on in a sequence.

Difficulty level: Easy


  • Strengthens the arms, legs and torso
  • Lengthens the side body
  • Opens the shoulders and hamstrings
  • Calms the mind

Come to your hands and knees, placing your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips (Table Pose).  Spread your fingers wide and root down into the floor through all four corners of your hands.    Press your finger pads firmly into the floor, creating a bit of lift in the palm of your hand.  Inhale and draw energy from your hands up into your shoulders.  Keeping your arms steadfast and straight, exhale and draw your shoulder blades onto your back.  Inhale, lift your hips, and lengthen back through your spine and hips.  Keeping your head in a line with your spine, draw your ears in line with your arms.  Straighten your legs to come into the full pose. Hold for three full breaths.

So how do you know if you are “doing it right”?  If the area between your shoulders on your back (or your upper back) are hunching to allow you to reach the pose, try stepping your feet further back on your mat–lengthening the pose.  If your hips cannot comfortably lift, draw your feet towards the front of your mat–shortening your length–a bit.  Also, pay attention to the placement of your ears.  Your head should be in a neutral position in line with your spine, and your ears should be in line with your arms.  In the full expression of the pose, you will be able to draw energy from your hands to your hips, then down the back of your legs drawing your heels towards the floor.


If your heels don’t comfortably reach the floor, place a low pillow or blanket under your heels, or keep a slight bend in the knees.

If you have a hand, wrist or shoulder injury:  Face a chair with the seat in front of you.  Place your hands on the seat of the chair.  Pressing into the chair, press your hips up and back away from your hands.  Draw your head down in line with your arms.  Adjust your stance to allow feeling the lengthening in the side body and the stretch through the hamstrings.

Looking for a yoga sequence you can incorporate into your daily routine?  Check out Refresh, Renew, Reset~A 7-Day Jumpstart For Mind and Body.  Stacey Portugal and I created this nutrition protocol with daily yoga and meditation so you can step powerfully and easily into your New Year!