Adho Mukha Svanasana: Try saying that three times fast.
Fortunately, it's a lot easier to do than to say. More colloquially known as "Downward Facing Dog," this yoga pose is one of the most basic asanas. It's used in many different flows, and is easy enough for beginners to do, yet challenging enough so that even experienced yogis can feel its benefits in their practice.
When you do it, your body makes an upside-down V-shape. Once again, it's simple enough to do, but holding it can be a challenge. It's a great position to use to challenge yourself and to get a deep stretch in your hamstrings and calves.
In fact, this pose is a total-body workout. You know how people say, after a good workout, that they're sore in muscles that they didn't even know they had? Well, that's definitely the case with downward facing dog. Not only are you strengthening your trapezius, latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus, and hamstrings, but you're also working your rhomboids, rotator cuff, deltoids, extensor, serratus anterior, soleus and gastrocnemius. It's good for your entire body, and you'll feel stronger and more powerful the more often you do it.
More experienced yogis can perfect their form by really driving their heels down into their yoga mats, and building the power and strength in their arms and legs by trying to lift their bodies even as they drive their hands and feet into the mat.
Of course, if you want your hands and feet to be comfortable despite the pressure you're putting on them, it's essential for you to invest in a high-quality yoga mat. Maji Mat's revolutionary design gives you extra padding right where you need it so that you can push your body without being too hard on your joints.
You don't have to be a yoga expert in order to do this pose. It's so easy that... well, even a dog could do it! You can see where this pose got its name; it's quite an apt moniker.
If you want to get the ultimate benefits out of this basic, but challenging, pose, you can ask your yoga instructor for help in getting the right form. Be sure to practice it often, and you'll just get better and better. And the better you get, the more you'll get out of it!
Every dog has its day. In the yoga world, every day is a good day for downward facing dog!
Now, if only we could all learn to pronounce "Adho Mukha Svanasana" properly...