Downward Facing Dog :: (AH-doh MOO-kah shvah-NAHS-anna)
adho = downward
mukha = face
svana = dog
Type of Pose :: standing, mild inversion and resting
Benefits :: stretches and strengthens your entire body
How do to do Downward Facing Dog :: Come to hands and knees with the wrists underneath shoulders and the knees underneath hips. Curl toes under and push back raising hips and straightening legs. Spread the fingers and ground down from the forearms into the fingertips.
Outwardly rotate the upper arms broadening collarbones. Let head hang, move shoulder blades away from the ears towards hips. Engage quadriceps strongly to take weight off the arms, making this a resting pose.
Rotate thighs inward, keep tail high and sink heels to floor. Check that the distance between hands and feet is correct by coming forward to a plank position. The distance between hands and feet should be the same in these two poses. Do not step feet toward the hands in position in order to get heels to floor. This will happen eventually as muscles lengthen.
Beginners: Try bending knees, coming up onto balls of feet, bringing belly to rest on thighs and sit bones up high. Then sink heels, straightening legs keeping high upward rotation of sit bones. Also try bending arms slightly out to the side, drawing chest towards thighs. Then re-straighten the arms.
Advanced: If very flexible, try not to let rib cage sink towards floor creating a sinking spine. Draw ribs in to maintain a flat back.