Festival season can result in a sore back due to spending countless hours on the road, dancing until the sun comes up, and only finding time to sleep in cramped cars, airplanes and tents. Downward Facing Dog (Sanskrit: Adho Mukha Svanasana) is an active pose that can greatly decrease such back pain by strengthening the entire back and shoulder girdle. This is a pose that should be integrated into a regular routine as it can be practiced anywhere, and has many benefits beyond back pain relief.
In addition to back strengthening and pain relief, a regular practice of Downward Facing Dog can decrease tension and headaches by elongating the spine and neck, and by relaxing the head. The pose will also strengthen hands, wrists, calves, hamstrings and achilles tendon. Like many yoga poses, downward facing dog is also wonderful for relieving anxiety, deepening respiration and increasing full-body circulation when the proper breath rhythm is practiced with the pose.
You can get into this simple, back-relieving pose in just a few easy steps:
1. Begin on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
2. Walk your hands out a few inches forward and spread your fingers wide while pressing your palms into the mat.
3. Curl your toes under and begin to press your hips up toward the ceiling; this will bring your body into an inverted “V” shape.
4. Press your shoulders away from your ears, and make sure your feet are hip-width apart while your knees are slightly bent.
5. Hold this position for several deep breaths.
*As I mentioned in my first post, I am not a certified yoga instructor, but merely a yoga enthusiast. Please practice at your own risk and consult your physician with any questions.