January Five Exercises – Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana

Have you been doing your five this month? Here is one of them – Downward Facing Dog. Want to get lots of bang for your buck? This is the move for you. Shoulder and hip opener, spine and hamstring stretch, core strength, a little bit of everything! This move energizes your brain and may help relieve depression, stress and insomnia and improve digestion.

Here is the version I recommend for those new to yoga, or if you have tight hamstrings or shoulders.

Down Dog .modified.

See how my knees and elbows are bent? I have space between my ear and shoulder and my back is long.

This version requires more strength and flexibility:

Down Dog Jan 2014

Let’s try it together:

  • Start from hands and knees or a plank.
  • Press hands and feet into the mat and send your tail (sitz bones) to the ceiling.
  • Imagine you are pulling the mat apart.
  • Hold for one minute (if you are able to do so without pain).

Start with one minute today and see if you can increase your time held to two or three minutes by the end of January (please see safety precautions below…)


Anne McCranie is a Portland, Oregon based personal trainer and Licensed Massage Therapist. She holds weekly yoga and Pilates classes in her Sellwood studio. These photos are meant to be reminders of the exercises we have done together, so that you can continue your work at home.

Consult with your medical professional prior to beginning an exercise program. Spending long periods upside down is contraindicated for those suffering from unmanaged high blood pressure.