What is the downward facing dog stretch?

Downward facing dog is a standing pose and mild inversion that builds strength while stretching the whole body. It’s named after the way dogs naturally stretch their entire bodies.

Set up

  1. Begin on your hands and knees. Align your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.

  2. Spread your fingers wide and press firmly through your palms and knuckles. Distribute your weight evenly across your hands.

  3. Tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor. Reach your pelvis up toward the ceiling and draw your sit bones toward the wall behind you.

  4. Gently straighten your legs and arms. Relax your head, but do not let it dangle.


  1. Stretches and strengthens your entire body. It deeply stretches your hamstrings, shoulders, calves, arches, hands and spine while toning the body.

  2. Relief from headaches. This stretch can relieve headaches and fatigue.

  3. Calms the nervous system. The flow of blood to the brain also calms the nervous system, improves memory and relieves stress.

Please do this pose with caution. Ask your physician or physical therapist if downward facing dog pose is okay for your back.

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