Adho Mukha means downward facing and Svana means dog. The pose resembles a dog stretching and hence the name.
Lie completely on the floor on the stomach. The distance between your feet is as wide as your hips.
Bring your palms by the side of your chest, fingers pointing in the direction of your head.
Exhale, straighten your arms and lift your trunk off the floor. Push your head inwards towards the feet and place it on the floor if possible. Keep your elbows straight and extend your back.
Keep your legs straight, pull back your knee caps and try to push your heels to the floor. Make sure that your feet are parallel to each other.
Stay in the pose for a minute. Keep your core activated (meaning, pull in your abdominal muscles towards your spine) and continue to breathe deeply and slowly.
Exhale and come back to the sleeping position on your stomach.
The pose relieves pain and stiffness in heels and helps to soften calcaneal spurs. It strengthens the ankles. As you push your heels to the ground keeping your knees straight, you stretch the entire back part of your legs. Hence, this asana is recommended for runners. As you push your head inwards towards the floor, your shoulder blades, upper back and shoulder joints are stretched. This relieves arthritis of shoulder joints.
This asana is an alternative for the ones who cannot perform Sirsasana (Head stand)
(1) Light on Yoga, by BKS Iyengar (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_on_Yoga)
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