Subodh Gupta
Yoga pose Downward-Facing Dog assumes the shape of an upside-down V, resembling the shape of a dog when stretching after lying down, with only the hands and the feet touching the floor.

It is one of the well known yoga pose for stretching and rejuvenating the entire body from the feet all the way up to the hips and down through the wrists and hands. Head is lower than the pelvis in this pose i.e. often classified as an inversion yoga posture.

This yoga pose works as a warm-up for the muscles at the beginning of most of the yoga practice. In many styles of yoga, this yoga pose is repeated many times during yoga class. It provides a transition between poses, especially in Sun Salutation and Vinyasa yoga style.

The Downward-Facing Dog is supported equally by the upper and lower extremities. For the Downward Dog to be properly supported, the muscles of scapulae (which connect arms to the torso) have to remain engaged at all times.

This yoga posture stretches the shoulders, shoulder blades, arms, hands, lower back, hamstrings, calves and Achilles tendons. It strengthens the entire back, alleviates lower back pain and eases stiff neck. It expands the chest, increases circulation, especially to the brain, and rejuvenates the whole body.

Holding this yoga pose for a minute or longer will stimulate energy levels. Regular practice of this yoga pose will gently stimulate the nervous system, improving memory and concentration.

This yoga pose is praised for many benefits. However, there are some health conditions under which this yoga posture should not be practiced.

Three important reasons (out of many) not to do Downward-Facing Dog:

  1. Do not practice this yoga posture if you have Carpal tunnel syndrome; (It is compression of the median nerve at the wrist, which may result in numbness, tingling, weakness, or muscle atrophy in the hand and fingers. The illness typically affects the thumb, index, and middle fingers and is often particularly troublesome at night).
  2. Avoid this posture in late-term pregnancy.
  3. If you are suffering from a recent or chronic injury to the hips, arms or shoulders do not attempt this yoga posture.

Caution: Always check with your doctor if you have any doubts or concerns regarding the suitability of this Yoga pose for you.

By ignoring your conditions you put your health at risk.

Issued in public interest by Subodh Gupta, celebrity yoga and weight loss trainer. Subodh Gupta is author of numerous books on yoga and weight loss. 

He has been interviewed by various TV channels and his views and articles appear regularly in magazines and newspapers in India and the UK.

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