Adho mukha svanasana comes from the Sanskrit adhas, meaning “down,” mukha, meaning “face,” svana, meaning “dog,” and asana, meaning “pose.” The common English name for adho mukha svanasana is downward-facing dog pose, or simply downward dog or down dog.
Spread the fingers wide apart, press through each finger joint. Rotate the arm bones so that your inner elbows and arm pits face towards each other, broadening out through your shoulders. Draw your shoulders down away from your ears and find length in the spine by sending the sitting bones up with each inhale, and sinking down in the heels with each exhale. Maybe your heels touch the ground, maybe they don’t, it doesn’t really matter. I’m a heels-off-the-mat kind of yogi and I’m ok with that. A little bend in the knees is nice on those days when everything feels a little tighter. Focus on rotating the thighs inwards and slightly pigeon toe the feet hip width apart. Draw in the lower belly with every exhale. I like to rise up on the balls of my feet on the inhale, and sink down on the exhale. If your heels hit the mat, perhaps try lifting your toes to get that extra pull through the hamstrings and see how it feels. Play with it, pedal your knees, arrive in stillness.