“Adho” in Sanskrit means down, “mukha'' face, "svana", dog, ``and “asana” position. It is called Downward Facing Dog in English. 


The gravity reversing inverted pose, causes blood and fluids to flow in other directions. It strengthens bones. Stretching the calf and hamstrings, tones the arms and engages the core. Adho Mukha Svanasana lengthens the spine and opens the shoulders, relieving back and neck pain. Refer to the main article to learn more about Adho Mukha Svanasana and its benefits.

What is Adho Mukha Svanasana?

The Adho Mukha Svanasana is a yoga pose that is widely practiced by beginners and advanced yoga practitioners alike. It is a Sanskrit phrase that means ‘downward-facing dog pose’ in English. The pose is named so because it quite literally resembles a dog that’s facing downward and stretching its body.

Types of Adho Mukha Svanasana

Now that you know how to perform the basic version of the Adho Mukha Svanasana, you can get to know the variations of this pose better. The variations are typically more advanced than the basic version, so it is advisable to first master the original Adho Mukha Svanasana before you attempt any of its variations.

Here is a closer look at the top three variations of the Adho Mukha Svanasana. All the variations begin from the original downward-facing dog pose.

  • Three-legged Downward-facing Dog Pose

In this variation, you need to lift one of your legs off the floor, so you are poised on both your palms and one leg. This essentially leaves just three-points of contact with the ground, giving this variation the name of ‘three-legged’ downward-facing dog pose.

  • Standing Split Pose

In the standing split pose, you lift one of your legs off the floor and take it upward until it is almost vertically aligned with the foot that is still resting on the ground. Bring your palms closer to your body, till you are comfortably performing a kind of vertical split.

  • Revolved Downward-facing Dog Pose

In this variation, you need to get into the Adho Mukha Svanasana first. Then, take your right palm off the ground and hold your left ankle with it. Spin your chest outward till your upper body revolves slightly. Hold this pose for a while and repeat it on the other side.

How to Practice the Adho Mukha Svanasana?

The Adho Mukha Svanasana is quite easy to perform. In fact, it is one of the first asanas that beginners learn when they are getting started on their yoga journey. If you’ve been wondering how to get into this pose, here is a step-by-step guide to help you practice this asana.


  • Step 1: Start by kneeling on the floor and keep your knees hip-width apart.
  • Step 2: Bend your upper body forward and place your hands on the floor, with your palms aligned in line with your shoulders. At this point, you should essentially be balancing your body on your knees, feet and palms.
  • Step 3: From this position, exhale, curl your toes and gently lift your knees off the floor. You should continue to face downward, and your heels should also not be in contact with the floor. This means you will now be balancing your body on your palms and your toes.
  • Step 4: Keep your knees and elbows bent slightly and take a couple of breaths.
  • Step 5: Now, lengthen your tailbone and straighten both your elbows and your knees. Bring your heels downward until they touch the floor. At this point, you should feel a nice stretch in your hamstrings.
  • Step 6: Hold the pose for a while and take a few deep breaths.
  • Step 7: Then, bend your knees and elbows and get back into the sitting position.

Benefits of Adho Mukha Svanasana

When performed regularly, the Adho Mukha Svanasana has many benefits for people from all walks of life. Whether you are someone who is generally active, or whether you lead a sedentary life, the Adho Mukha Svanasana can be beneficial to you in the following ways.

  • Strengthens the muscles in your legs

  • Increases the flow of blood to your brain

  • May helps prevent carpal tunnel syndrome

  • Strengthens your arms and shoulders

  • Alleviates pain in the lower back

  • Relieves stress and anxiety


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Beginner’s Tips for Adho Mukha Svanasana

If you are just a beginner planning to try the Adho Mukha Svanasana for the first time, it can help to take note of some tips that could make the pose easier for you. Here are some such beginners’ tips for the Adho Mukha Svanasana.


  • Lengthen your neck by tucking your chin inward and tilting the crown of your head towards the floor. This improves balance and stretches your back.

  • Pull your heels upward slightly to stretch the back of your legs more. You can also bend your knees a bit to make it easier to balance your body.

How often should I do Adho Mukha Svanasana?

There is no hard and fast rule about how often you should perform the Adho Mukha Svanasana. You can start off by performing this pose around 2 to 3 times during each stretching session. As you get more comfortable with this pose, you can perform it more often and even try the variations.

Precautions to take to perform Adho Mukha Svanasana

Whether you are trying the Adho Mukha Svanasana for the first time, or whether you are a seasoned yoga practitioner, it is important to take the following essential precautions before you begin.


  • Perform a warm-up before you start the Adho Mukha Svanasana.

  • Do not perform this pose on a full stomach.

  • Avoid practicing the Adho Mukha Svanasana if you have an injury in your ankles or wrists.


The Adho Mukha Svanasana is an easy and beneficial yoga pose that has many benefits. Staying active with yoga and eating a balanced diet can help you stay healthy over the long term. And if you want to add an additional layer of protection, you can invest in the health insurance plans available on Bajaj Markets, so your finances are protected come what may.



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FAQs on Adho Mukha Svanasana

What is the meaning of the term ‘Adho Mukha Svanasana’?

The Sanskrit term Adho Mukha Svanasana means downward-facing dog pose in English.

Can beginners perform the Adho Mukha Svanasana?

Yes, beginners can easily perform this asana without any trouble.

What muscles does the Adho Mukha Svanasana stretch?

This asana stretches and works the muscles in your heels, calves, hamstrings, hips, glutes, and lower back. 

How long should I hold the downward-facing dog pose?

It is typically recommended that you hold this pose for at least one minute. Beginners can hold it for 30 seconds initially. 

Can pregnant women perform the downward-facing dog pose?

While the Adho Mukha Svanasana is generally safe for pregnant women too, it is best to consult with your doctor before you try it during pregnancy.

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