Adho Mukha Svanasana
This classic yoga pose is fantastic for increasing your flexibility in your shoulders and hamstrings. One of the inversion poses, it’s also good for increasing the blood supply to your brain making this a very strengthening and invigorating pose.
There are a few adaptations you can make if this pose is too strong for you. It’s fine to bend the knees or you could opt for puppy dog pose, where you are kneeling. This takes some of the intensity of the pose away but keeps the super shoulder stretch. Your eye gaze (drishti) depends on where your heels are in this pose: if your heels are down, your eye gaze should be towards your navel; if your heels are lifted, your eye gaze is towards the back of the mat.
This pose often features in sun salutations as a key part of this dynamic, fluid, warm sequence of postures. It’s probably the pose that most people are familiar with since it energizes the body, helping to calm and focus the mind. You will feel an amazing stretch whilst you strengthen the arms and legs.
Some purists have specific ideas about the correct way to perform this pose but for us it is very much about listening to your body, finding that connection with movement, feeling the joy of exercise and being totally at one in the moment as you lift your hips up, straighten your legs and push your heels to the floor. With your palms pressing into the floor and your fingers spread you can allow your chest to move towards your thighs.
Remind yourself to be kind in your postures. Celebrate what you can do and don’t get caught up in the pursuit of the perfect posture: remember it’s about what is right for you at any given moment in time.
Adho Mukha Svanasana is a great way to get to know your body and find what works best for you. We always suggest that you allow an expert to help and guide your practise, taking into account your physical make up – the length of your long bones, the amount of flexibility at your joints, and the elasticity of your tendons and ligaments.
If you live in easy reach of our hot yoga studio in Bolton, Lancashire, why not join us for a few sessions so we can help you make the most of your genetics?
Please consult your doctor before making changes to your lifestyle such as going on a diet or embarking on an exercise programme.