Downward Dog on Knees (Adho Mukha Svanasana On Knees)

Downward Dog on Knees (Adho Mukha Svanasana On Knees) - SharpMuscle
13 min read
Updated: August 6, 2023

Downward Dog on Knees, also known as Adho Mukha Svanasana on Knees or Kneeling Downward Dog, is a modified version of the traditional Downward Dog Pose, focuses on the shoulders, arms, upper back, hamstrings, and calves.

Downward Dog on Knees is a flexible position that may be performed as a moderate warm-up, a transitional posture, or as a solitary stretch and relaxation pose. It is frequently performed in numerous yoga systems and is regarded as a basic posture for increasing body strength and flexibility.

As it serves to stretch and strengthen many regions of the body, the posture is frequently utilized as a resting position in many yoga sequences.


Known as:Downward Dog on Knees, Adho Mukha Svanasana On Knees, Kneeling Downward Dog
Type:Stretch, stretch, strength, partial inversion
Focus:Shoulders, arms, upper back, hamstrings, calves
Total time:30 seconds to 1 minute
Drishti:Directed downward, between the hands or towards the knees
Chakra:Muladhara Chakra (Root Chakra), Svadhisthana Chakra (Sacral Chakra)
Indications:Upper body, wrist, shoulder, knee, back, hamstrings, calves, spine, relieve mild back discomfort, abdominal, mental clarity
Counterposes:Child’s Pose (Balasana), Seated Forward Fold Pose (Paschimottanasana), Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana), Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana), Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana), Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana), Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Preparatory poses:Tabletop Pose (Bharmanasana), Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana), Child’s Pose (Balasana), Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana), Standing Forward Fold Pose (Uttanasana), Seated Forward Fold Pose (Paschimottanasana)
Follow-up posses:Downward Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana), Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana), Upward Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana), Warrior Poses (Virabhadrasana I, II, and III), Seated Twist Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana), Child’s Pose (Balasana), Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Contraindications:Uncontrolled hypertension, glaucoma, carpal tunnel syndrome, pregnant women, severe knee pain or acute knee injuries, recovering from injuries in the wrists, shoulders, or back


The specific name “Downward Dog on Knees” or “Kneeling Downward Dog” is used to describe the variation of the pose where the practitioner keeps the knees on the ground, providing additional support and making the pose more accessible to those with wrist or shoulder issues.

Therefor, the term “Adho Mukha Svanasana” comes from the Sanskrit name, which is made up of four words – Adho + Mukha + Svana + Asana:

  1. Adho” = “downward”
  2. Mukha” = “face”
  3. Svana” = “dog”
  4. Asana” = “pose” or “posture”

When combined, “Adho Mukha Svanasana” translates to “Downward-Facing Dog Pose” in English.

Benefits of Adho Mukha Svanasana On Knees

The Downward Dog on Knees (Adho Mukha Svanasana on Knees or Kneeling Downward Dog) offers a range of physical and mental benefits. Regardless of it is a modified version of the standard Downward Dog Pose, it still offers numerous benefits for yogis. However, the many benefits of asanas formulate up with time and depend on person to person. Regular practice, along with proper alignment and mindful breathing, can maximize the advantages of this asana.

  1. Physical Benefits:
    • Because the shoulders, arms, and wrists support a portion of the body weight, the posture serves to strengthen them. The reason for this may help with building up of upper-body stability and muscular endurance.
    • The elongation of the spine in this position improves back flexibility and mobility and can relieve minor back pain or stiffness.
    • The leg posture in the asana functions to stretch and increase the length of the hamstrings and calves, enhancing leg flexibility.
    • Because the position is reversed, blood flows towards the head and upper body, potentially increasing circulation.
    • A simple stretch down the spine and back might aid in the release of tension in the shoulders, neck, and upper back.
    • Engaging the core muscles is crucial to keep the position steady, therefore is helpful in increasing core strength and conditioning.
  1. Mental Benefits:
    • Practicing the posture necessitates attention and awareness of one’s body and breath, which can aid in the development of mindfulness and focus.
    • The partial inversion aspect of this asana, together with the deep inhalation and exhalation linked to it, helps boost your body’s ability to relax, thereby relieving the anxiety and muscular tension.
    • Yoga stances, such as Downward Dog on Knees, have been proven to increase endorphin release, which can lead to a more cheerful mood.
    • The practice of this asana supports individuals bring more awareness to their alignment and physiological sensations, which leads to better awareness of their bodies.
    • Certain asanas in yoga are said to regulate the flow of energy throughout the body. Downward Dog on Knees is considered to achieve a combination of grounding and uplifting energy.
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Downward Dog on Knees Practice Guide

In this modified version of Downward Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana), the practitioner starts on hands and knees, similar to a tabletop position, and then extends the arms forward while keeping the hips above the knees.

Step-step Instructions

  1. Find a comfortable space with enough room to stretch out your arms and legs. Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position, with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. This is your starting position.
  2. Adjust the distance between your hands and knees if needed, finding a comfortable width for your body.
  3. Keeping your hips directly above your knees, slowly walk your hands forward, extending your arms out in front of you.
  4. As you walk your hands forward, keep your palms grounded on the floor and spread your fingers wide for stability and balance.
  5. Gently begin to lower your head and chest toward the floor, allowing your spine to lengthen and creating a slight stretch in your arms, shoulders, and back.
  6. Keep some weight on your hands to maintain stability, but try to shift some weight back towards your hips to avoid putting too much pressure on your wrists.
  7. Your gaze should be directed downwards, between your hands, or towards your knees to keep your neck in a neutral position.
  8. As you settle into the pose, you may feel a gentle stretch along your spine, shoulders, and the backs of your legs.


  • Breathe deeply and evenly throughout the pose, inhaling and exhaling through your nose. This will help you relax and find stability in the position.
  • Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or as long as feels comfortable for you. Remember to maintain proper alignment and listen to your body’s limits. To release the pose, gently walk your hands back towards your knees, and return to the tabletop position.
  • Avoid sinking into your shoulders. Keep your shoulder blades engaged and slightly drawn towards each other to prevent strain.
  • Engage your core muscles to support your lower back and maintain stability in the pose.
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Common Mistakes

Common mistakes in performing Downward Dog on Knees can lead to improper alignment and give less benefit from the pose. However, the common mistakes and proper alignment of this yoga asana are explained below, which can enhance the benefits of this asana are explaining below, that can enhance the benefits of Kneeling Downward Dog Pose, making the pose more effective and enjoyable in your practice.

1. Hips Too Far Back

Some people tend to shift their hips too far back in an attempt to bring their head closer to the floor. This can cause an excessive arch in the lower back, leading to compression and discomfort.

This mistake often occurs due to a lack of flexibility in the shoulders and hamstrings. The person compensates by trying to get their head down, resulting in misalignment.

Pro-tip: Instead of focusing on bringing the head down, prioritize keeping your hips directly above your knees. Work on gradually increasing shoulder and hamstring flexibility over time.

2. Collapsing Shoulders

Allowing the shoulders to sink towards the floor can strain the neck and wrists while reducing the effectiveness of the pose.

Weak upper body strength and lack of awareness in the shoulder area can lead to shoulder collapse.

Pro-tip: Engage your shoulder muscles by pressing your hands firmly into the ground and externally rotating your upper arms. This will create a stable foundation and prevent the shoulders from collapsing.

3. Head and Neck Misalignment

Attempting to rest the head on the floor without proper support can strain the neck and create discomfort.

Limited flexibility in the shoulders and neck can make it challenging to find a comfortable position for the head.

Pro-tip: Use a prop, such as a folded blanket or pillow, to support your head. Place the prop under your forehead so that your neck remains in a neutral position.

4. Rounding the Upper Back

Allowing the upper back to round excessively can reduce the stretch along the spine and the back of the legs.

Tightness in the chest, shoulders, and hamstrings can lead to rounding of the upper back when trying to lower the head towards the floor.

Pro-tip: Keep your arms straight and engage your core muscles to lengthen your spine. Focus on maintaining a long line from your tailbone to the crown of your head.

5. Overloading the Wrists

Placing too much weight on the wrists can cause discomfort and strain, especially if the wrists are not properly aligned.

Weakness in the upper body and improper hand placement can lead to excessive pressure on the wrists.

Pro-tip: Distribute your weight evenly across your hands and fingers. Make sure your wrists are directly under your shoulders and your fingers are spread wide for better support.

6. Lack of Engagement in the Core

Not engaging the core can lead to a lack of stability in the pose and put strain on the lower back.

Forgetting to activate the core muscles can cause the weight to shift too much into the arms and shoulders.

Pro-tip: Draw your belly button towards your spine and engage your abdominal muscles. This will create a stable foundation and protect your lower back.

Modifications and Variations

The modifications and variations of asana are not about “easier” or “harder” but about finding the right level of challenge and comfort for your body. It allows you to adapt the poses to your unique abilities and challenges while still gaining the benefits of the practice. However, the modifications and variations for Downward Dog on Knees explaining below:

1. Kneeling on a Pillow/Cushion

Placing a pillow or cushion under the knees helps support the joint and reduces pressure on them. It is particularly beneficial for individuals with sensitive knees or those recovering from knee injuries.

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How to: Simply kneel on the pillow or cushion while setting up the tabletop position. This modification distributes the weight more evenly and cushions the knees against the floor.

2. Forearm Downward Dog on Knees

Traditional Downward Dog involves placing weight on the wrists, which can be challenging for some individuals with wrist issues or limited wrist flexibility. The forearm variation alleviates wrist pressure.

How to: From the tabletop position, lower down onto your forearms while keeping your elbows directly under your shoulders. Spread your fingers wide and press your forearms firmly into the floor. Maintain the same alignment as in the regular version.

3. Supported Head on a Block

If lowering the head towards the floor is uncomfortable or causes strain, placing a yoga block or cushion under the forehead can provide support and relaxation.

How to: Set up the basic pose, then place a yoga block (or a stack of folded blankets) at a height that allows your head to rest comfortably on it. This modification reduces the intensity of the pose and is especially useful for beginners or those with neck issues.

4. Hands on a Chair or Wall

For individuals with limited shoulder or wrist mobility, this variation allows them to perform the pose with more ease and stability.

How to: Set up the tabletop position facing a sturdy chair or a wall. Walk your hands up the chair back or place your palms on the wall, maintaining shoulder-width distance between them. This variation takes some weight off the upper body and is gentler on the shoulders and wrists.

5. Bent Knees Downward Dog

If hamstrings or lower back tightness limits the ability to straighten the legs fully, bending the knees in the pose can provide a more accessible version.

How to: Start in the tabletop position and walk your hands forward as usual. Instead of straightening your legs, keep your knees slightly bent. This modification helps focus on elongating the spine and still provides a gentle stretch for the back of the legs.

Precautions and Contraindications

Precautions and contraindications are important, they help ensure the safety and well-being of the practitioner by identifying situations in which certain poses may not be suitable or may need to be modified.

Following precautions and contraindications to keep in mind while practicing the Downward Dog Pose on Knees, which are explaining below:

  • Wrist Health: This pose involves placing weight on the hands and wrists. Individuals with wrist issues, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or wrist injuries, should be cautious. To reduce wrist strain, they can use extra padding or place their hands on yoga blocks to decrease the angle at the wrists.
  • Neck and Spinal Health: People with neck or spinal injuries or conditions should be mindful while lowering their head and chest towards the floor. They can consider keeping their gaze forward or slightly up to avoid excessive extension of the neck.
  • Knee Sensitivity: For individuals with knee pain or injuries, placing a cushion or pillow under the knees is advisable. Additionally, they should avoid putting too much weight on the knees and focus on engaging the muscles around the knee joint for support.
  • Recent Wrist, Shoulder, or Back Injuries: Practitioners recovering from injuries to the wrists, shoulders, or back should avoid this pose until they have sufficiently healed and received clearance from a healthcare professional.
  • Severe Knee Pain or Injuries: Individuals with severe knee pain or acute knee injuries should avoid this pose, as it can put pressure on the knees.
  • Pregnancy: Pregnant women may find Downward Dog on Knees uncomfortable as the baby grows, and it may put unnecessary pressure on the abdomen. Modified poses or prenatal yoga may be more suitable during pregnancy.
  • High Blood Pressure: This pose involves an inversion of sorts, and individuals with uncontrolled high blood pressure or hypertension should be cautious. It is better to avoid the pose or perform it under the guidance of a qualified instructor.
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: People with carpal tunnel syndrome should avoid putting excessive pressure on the wrists in this pose and can use modifications, like yoga blocks or fists, to reduce strain.
  • Eye Conditions: Individuals with eye conditions, such as glaucoma, should avoid the full inversion of the head in this pose, and they can modify by keeping their gaze forward or slightly up.
Practice any asana with mindfully, respect your body’s limitations, and seek the guidance from a qualified yoga instructor/teacher. If you have any concerns or medical conditions, then seek advice of a healthcare professional. They can help you with appropriate modifications and alternatives to ensure a safe and enjoyable your practice. Also keep in mind, every individual’s body is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another.

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