In Sanskrit, 'adho' means down, 'mukha' means face, śvāna means 'dog', and āsana means posture, or pose. This is 'downward facing dog' pose.
Truly, this pose ought to resemble a dog stretching. Think of what a dog looks like when stretching every morning. Their head and forearms are down and hind end is up. This pose is first and foremost designed to stretch the spine. So keep that downward facing dog image in your mind as you begin the stretch, as many practitioners focus on the back of the leg stretch rather than elongating the spine.
1. From an all fours position; hands under your shoulders, knees under your hips. Hands should be shoulder width apart, and knees should be hip width apart.
2. Walk your hands about 6-8 inches in front of you. Fingers should be spread as wide as they can go (to avoid jamming the wrist, and to disperse the weight of your body evenly).
3. Look at your knees, suck your tummy in, tuck your toes under, and push your hips up to the sky. Knees bent (remember, first and foremost this is a spine-lengthening pose). Eventually, try to bring your heels down to the floor, and have straight legs.
4. Push through your fingertips, allowing each vertebrate the space it needs to decompress.
5. Take 6 deep breaths. In through the nose, out through the nose. Try to make each inhale and exhale longer than the breath before.
Benefits: This pose is first and foremost a spine stretch. The object is to lengthen the spine. Once you've made sure that is accomplished, with knees bent, then begin to straighten
the legs. As you become more comfortable in this pose, it is secondarily an excellent pose for runners, and helps to alleviate pain in muscles after races, but also helps to build a
stronger core and ankles.