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Downward-Facing Dog Pose (adho mukha svanasana)

Table posture that lengthens your spine and stretches your legs.

Downward-Facing Dog Pose (or adho mukha svanasana) lengthens your spine and provides an intense stretch to the back of your legs, with an emphasis on stretching your calves. You can perform Downward-Facing Dog Pose to warm up your legs in preparation for other poses.
While performing Downward-Facing Dog Pose, focus on shifting your weight back onto your legs. Resting most of your weight on your legs helps to relieve the pressure on your arms, which is especially useful if you have shoulder or wrist problems. As you shift your weight back, concentrate on stretching your heels toward the floor. If the back of your legs are tight, do not expect your heels to touch the floor.
As you perform the pose, keep your shoulder blades wide and your spine lengthened. You should also try to establish one straight line with your arms and spine and another with your legs, but make sure you do not lock your elbows or knees. To form these straight lines, try visualizing your body making an upside down V shape.
Begin in Child's Pose
Stretch your arms straight out in front of you, with your hands shoulder width apart.
Spread your fingers out and press your palms into the floor.
While maintaining the position of your hands, come up onto your hands and knees into Table Pose. Your knees should be hip width apart.
Tuck your toes under.
Exhale as you lift your hips and straighten your legs.
Exhale as you shift your weight back onto your legs and stretch your heels toward the floor.
Relax your head and neck toward the floor as your spine lengthens.
(Visualize your body making an upside down V shape.)
Hold the pose for 1 to 3 minutes.
(To come out of the pose, exhale as you bend your knees to the floor and then return to Child's Pose.)
The back of my legs feel strained. Should I continue performing the pose?
If the back of your legs feel strained in Downward-Facing Dog Pose, you can continue the pose, but bend your knees slightly. Even with this modification, you can still feel a deep stretch along the back of your legs. You can try straightening your legs a little more each time you perform the pose.
How can I modify the pose if I have wrist problems?
If you have wrist problems, you can try placing your knuckles, instead of your palms, on the floor as you perform Downward-Facing Dog Pose. You can also try performing the pose with your wrists supported. To support your wrists, place a rolled up towel under your wrists and allow your fingers to rest on the floor.
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