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Downward Facing Dog Benefits

9 great benefits from your downward facing dog:

1. Enhances Digestion

You’ve likely heard your yoga instructor ask you to pull your navel into the spine as you perform downward facing dog in class. There is good reason behind taking advantage of the compression benefits of this pose, even though downward dog isn’t considered a full folding pose. This slight compression (of pulling navel into spine) encourages the digestive function of the spleen, liver, and kidneys.

2. Naturally Energising

If you’re feeling tired in the afternoon – and how many of us are! – try doing downward dog pose for 30 seconds. Now, do you feel energised again?! Repeat a few times to charge up your inner batteries.

3. Promotes Blood Circulation

While downward facing dog is a semi-folding pose – it’s also considered an inversion posture. Positioning the head below the heart flips the gravitational norm, encouraging the circulatory system to pump fresh blood through the body, flushing toxins, regulating blood pressure, and boosting immune health.

4. Strengthens Bones

If you’re new to yoga, even holding downward dog for a few seconds can cause the muscles in your upper half to tremble. This is good – shaking means the muscles in the arms and shoulders are being challenged as they support more of your body weight. Not only do poses like downward dog promote upper body strength, they also strengthen bone density and help prevent osteoporosis.

5. Strengthens the Core

Envision yourself taking downward facing dog pose – engage through the core, draw up through the quadriceps, draw the hips up and back as you aim your sacrum at the ceiling, ground down toward the earth through the heels, let your shoulders melt down your back, and keep your upper body strong as you ground down through the hands and spread your fingers wide.  As your body forms an inverted V, your abdominals feel engaged as they support the spine and prevent you from caving in through the chest.

6. Work Out Knots and Back Pain

As you strengthen the core muscles (muscles in the torso, consisting of the abdominals and lower and outer back muscles) with downward dog, don’t overlook the stretching, aligning, and loosening benefits of this pose on your spine, shoulders, and back.  For instance, in downward dog, the shoulders melt down the back, the upper back fans out, and the spine is properly aligned to promote flexibility and ease tension.

7. Melt Stress

Multiple studies recommend stretching as a natural means to relaxation. Downward dog focuses the extension of the cervical spine and neck, releasing compression and stress on the entire spine. If you’re able to shake your head gently and loosely to the left, right, and up and down during this pose, you’ll be tapping into the anxiety-relieving muscle and mind benefits of the pose.

8. Allows For Healthy Pause

Have you ever wondered why your instructor leads you to take and hold downward dog between yoga sequences? This is because in addition to promoting a good stretch to the entire body, downward dog also allows you to take pause or inventory between postures, as a means to mind-body connection.

9. Positive Mind

On an emotional level downward facing dog helps turn everything on its head and helps us see things from a different angle. It also helps boost self-confidence.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Judy Wilson says:

    Thanks Sanjay – The Downward Facing Dog benefits In your article was excellent and a great reminder of just how good this pose is for us, I look forward to reading the benefits of other stretches/poses. Judy Wilson

  • Gitti Singleton says:

    I can’t do the downward dog as pictured yet. How important is it for the feet to be flat on the ground? Should I bend my knees, or lift my heels? Thanks, Gitti

  • Phoenix Yoga Studios says:

    Hi Gitti. Great question! You don’t have to have your heels on the ground for down face dog like in the image. That is what happens over time if your flexibility allows it. For now just come into the pose with your heels off the mat, having the energy strong in the legs, heels pressing towards the mat.

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