Adho Mukha Svanasana

Adho = Downward, Mukha = facing, Svana = Dog

Downward Facing Dog

One of yoga's most widely recognized poses, Adho Mukha Svanasana provides an ultimate all-over rejuvenating stretch.

Key Muscles

  • Biceps Femoris - stretches and awakens
  • Latissimus Doris & Pectoralis Major- draws body forward during transition
  • Tricep Brachii- contraction of 3 heads extends the elbows, contraction of the long head with the forearm rotates scapula upwards
  • Hamstrings - stretch is focused on this area when hips are flexed and knees straightened
  • Gastrocnemius- stretched when foot is dorsiflexed
  • Core Muscles - lengthening of the obliques and intercostal muscles (Serrated Anterior)
  • Gluteus Maximus - helps internally rotate the hips bringing knee caps forward.
  • Deltoid - contraction of the infraspinatus and teres minor muscles to externally rotate the shoulders
  • Quadriceps - engaged to extend the knee
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Skeletal Joint Actions

  • Flex with "sits bones" pointing to the sky

Knees and elbows

  • Extend and straighten


  • Flexed and rotated externally

Lumbar Spine

  • Extends

Cervical Spine

  • Flexes


  • pronate


  • dorsiflex
Few poses as powerful as a well aligned Downward Facing Dog with a consistent flow of breath.


  • Relaxation for people with mid-back or lower back pain by strengthening the entire back and shoulder girdle
  • Foundation pose to bring us to place of balance
  • Shoulder and chest opener
  • Stronger hands, low-back, hamstrings, calves, and Achilles tendon


Adho Mukha Svanasana is an inversion pose which naturally cause the diaphragm to move towards our head causing the actions of the abdominal muscles to become deep with exhalation. During inhalation, the thoracic cavity expands causing more movement throughout the upper body. While exhaling, attention needs to be paid to our legs, keeping them pressed back through the shins and heels.
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Armstrong, R. (2008) Asana Anatomy Downward Facing Dog. Gaia. Retrieved from

Carpenter, A. (2012) Learn Downward Facing Dog. Yoga Journal. Retrieved from

Dutt, S. (2016) Downward Facing Dog: Exploration, Anatomy, and Alignment. Retrieved from

Long, R. (2011) Adho Mukha Svanasana:Downward Facing Dog Pose Exploration. Gaia. Retrieved from

Long, R. (MD., FRCSC) (2006) Your Guide to Functional Anatomy in Yoga: The Key Muscles of Yoga. Bandha Yoga Publications LLC

(2011) Downward Facing Dog - Yoga Journal Pose. Yoga Journal. Retrieved from