Adho mukha svanasana is one of the most common yoga poses, also called the downward dog pose. It commonly refers to a dog's pose when stretched out with its front legs. This pose not only strengthens but also allows stretching, which helps build flexibility and balance throughout your entire body.

Adho mukha svanasana is the first pose you will learn if you ever take any yoga class. While learning the downward dog position is challenging, overcoming the difficulties and performing the pose is not hard. Look forward to how you can ace this pose.

What is downward dog in yoga?

Downward dog in yoga is one of the most common and also the first pose you will ever learn in yoga. As the name suggests, this pose will consist of a pose where you will face down and stretch out your arms in front of yourself, as seen performed by a dog during its stretching pose. This downward dog in yoga is one of the poses with many benefits, such as stretching your calves and hamstring while also providing a strengthening effect.

  • Sanskrit: Adho Mukha Svanasana
  • Pose Type: Inversion
  • Target Area: Lower body area
  • Meaning: Adho indicates downward, Mukha indicates face, Svana indicates a dog
  • Pronunciation: aah-doh MOO-kah shwah-NAHS-ah-nuh
  • Level: Beginner

What are the Benefits of Downward Dog Pose?

The downward dog pose is a beginner pose but comes out as a difficult pose for many beginners. However, you need not give up, especially when there are a lot of benefits of downward dog pose. With these downward dog pose benefits, you will not only be able to improve your overall strength but downward facing dog yoga improves the body's overall flexibility.

Before you know all about downward facing dog pose steps, you need to be aware of the adho mukha svanasana benefits that come with it. Not to mention that these downward dog pose benefits are scientifically proven. The yoga pose downward dog, while it seems less complex when an instructor does it, has a lot to work on. The benefits of downward dog pose are all the more reasons you need to learn how to do this downward dog pose.

Sr. no Benefits How it helps
1 Gets things moving Help stimulate internal organs and systems for better functioning is one of the benefits of downward dog pose
2 Clears out your head Relieves allergies and one of the main downward dog pose benefits is that it clears sinuses by allowing the flow of mucus
3 Strengthens bones Adho mukha svanasana benefits allow the building of bone density and strengthen the bones.
4 Slumpy posture can be treated Opening of anterior chest walls and shoulder which improves the slumping posture due to excessive desk work.
5 Double effect One of the main adho mukha svanasana benefits is that it allows focusing on both the upper and lower body.
6 Fast feet response Downward dog pose allows a faster response especially when you stumble and fall hence protecting from injury.
7 Improves youthful glow Performing downward dog position provides a dewy glow and overall youthful look
8 Stimulates blood flow Overall blood flow is improved allowing better circulation.


How to do the Downward dog pose: The 11 Adho Mukha Svanasana Steps

It is crucial that you initially understand how to adho mukha svanasana before you go ahead to do it. Here are the 11 adho mukha svanasana steps you need to know before you begin the pose. By following these below provide adho mukha svanasana steps, you can conduct the pose successfully.

Step Detail
Step 1 To start, get on all fours.
Step 2 The back is straight, the knees on the ground hip-width apart at 90 degrees with the pelvis and the hands are flat on the mat in line with the shoulders. It looks like a table with four legs.
Step 3 Inhale then exhale.
Step 4 On the exhale, turn the toes and raise the hips towards the sky without moving the hands. Observe the coccyx which points towards the sky.
Step 5 Hands are flat on the mat with all fingers extended into the mat and pressing into the floor.
Step 6 To avoid building up tension in the shoulders, rotate the shoulders slightly outward.
Step 7 The toes point forward and the heels are placed flat on the mat or towards the floor if the legs are stiff.
Step 8 If necessary, it is possible to bend the knees to go into the posture little by little.
Step 9 The head is between the arms and looks at the feet. Gradually bring the chest in towards the knees.
Step 10 Once in the posture, take a deep breath and look towards the navel without moving your head. Hold for about 1-3 minutes to feel the benefits.
Step 11 To get out of the posture, exhale and get back on all fours or in Balasana or Child's Pose to release.

Yoga Asanas Related to Downward Dog Pose

When you start with the downward facing dog pose, you must keep a postures flow. It would help if you prepared for the yoga pose downward dog before beginning the steps.

Preparatory Poses to do before Downward dog pose 

For starting with the yoga pose downward dog you need to take note of the downward dog preparatory pose. This pose will allow you to keep a flow in the poses while also prepping your body for the pose to be effective. The poses can be provided as follows:

  • Vajrasana or thunderbolt pose
  • Uttanasana or Forward Fold
  • Garudasana or Eagle Pose
  • Gomukhasana or Cow Face Pose
  • Phalakasana or Plank Pose
  • Bitilasana and Marjaryasana or Cat and cow pose
  • Paschimottanasana or Seated forward fold

Follow up poses after downward dog pose

When you finish off with the downward dog position, you can perform some of the downward dog follow-up poses such as provided below:

  • Balasana or Child’s pose
  • Dandasana or Staff pose
  • Supta Virasana or Reclined Hero Pose
  • Setu Bandha Sarvangasana or Bridge pose


Downward Dog / Adho Mukha Svanasana Contraindications & Precautions

While it is true that yoga has some of the best benefits for every problem, it is also true that not everyone can perform all of the poses, and hence taking precautions while conducting the poses is essential. Here are some of the tips to keep yourself safe:

  • If you have a wrist injury existing you would want to avoid performing the downward dog pose. However, some of the modifications might help relieve the pain.
  • If you are someone who has high blood pressure you might not want to hold this pose for more than 30 seconds
  • If you are someone who has had eye surgery you need to avoid this downward dog position.

3 Downward Facing Dog Modifications & Variations to Try

Here are some of the modifications that you can try if you cannot perform the downward dog position due to some or other reason:

  1. If you have some wrist injury you may want to keep a foam wedge under your hand which will help lower the angle of extension of your hands and hence help you keep the position for longer.
  2. You can use a yoga strap to help keep your elbows from bending if there is an elbow bending issue while performing the adho mukha svanasana.
  3. When doing the downward dog pose you might want to roll your blanket under your heels if you cannot touch your heels down on the ground during your first try.
  4. If you’ve got a shoulder injury then you need to use a yoga chair to perform the downward facing dog pose which will help you remove the pressure from your shoulder.   

3 Downward Dog Mistakes to Avoid 

It is common to make downward dog mistakes when performing this pose. However, here are three common mistakes that you need to avoid:

1. Butt position:

Bend your knees and coming up onto the balls of your feet can get your butt in the right position. Now bring your belly to rest on your thighs and sit bones up high. Now sink your heels and keep your legs straight while keeping the high upward rotation of sit bones.

2. Banana back:

If you are not all that flexible then you need to check that your rib cage is not sinking towards the floor and creating a sinking spine which is commonly called the banana back.

3. Foot position:

Keeping the right space between your feet is important. They shouldn’t be too far apart nor too close. They should be hip-width apart and leave about six inches between two feet.

Buy Yoga Equipment needed for Downward Dog Pose from Decathlon

Buying the right yoga equipment will help you to perform the adho mukha svanasana perfectly. Here are some of the yoga equipment that will help you:

1. Yoga mat beginner:

This mat will provide a comfortable base with which you can keep your stable pose.

2. Yoga seamless legging:

To get that perfect leg stretch you will need to wear breathable and comfortable clothing such as the yoga seamless legging.

3. Yoga foam block:

To keep you from any sort of wrist or elbow injury you can use the yoga foam block which will keep you safe while performing the adho mukha svanasana pose.


When new to the downward dog pose, you might feel like it is pretty hard and even far from the actual stretching. It might even cause your whole body to undergo a workout simultaneously. This will eventually get better once the practice has been set in motion. This pose will ultimately become one of the best resting poses.


How long to do downward dog?

Depending on your capacity, the downward dog pose must be held for just 5 to 10 breaths. Repeating this pose 2 to 3 times will help stretch your entire body.

How to keep hands from slipping in downward dog?

To keep your hands from slipping while posing the downward dog pose you will want to keep your toes fixed on the ground with your hip as high as possible.



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