The One Legged Downward Facing Dog Pose, also known as Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana or Three-Legged Dog Pose, stretches the hamstrings, hips, and calves, while strengthening the arms and shoulders, and improving balance and stability.
Continue reading in this guide we will include step-by-step instruction for the Asana, as well as modifications, variations, and common mistakes to avoid. We will also discuss precautions and contraindications to consider when practicing the pose, to help ensure that your practice is safe and accessible.
|Known as:||One Legged Downward Facing Dog Pose, Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana, Three-Legged Dog Pose, Three-Legged Downward Dog Pose, Single-Leg Downward Facing Dog Pose, Downward Facing Dog Split Pose|
|Sanskrit name:||एक पाद अधोमुख श्वानासन|
|IAST:||Eka Pāda Adho Mukha Śvānāsana|
|Pronunciation:||EH-kuh PAH-duh UH-doh MOO-kuh svuh-nuh-SUH-nuh|
|Level:||Intermediate to advanced|
|Focus:||Arms, shoulders, back, legs|
|Total time:||30-60 seconds|
|Drishti:||Directed towards the toes of the extended foot;|
Directed towards a fixed point on the ground
|Chakra:||Root Chakra (Muladhara), Sacral Chakra (Svadhisthana), Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura), Throat Chakra (Vishuddha)|
|Indications:||Hips, hamstrings, calves, ankles, wrists, arms, balance, stability, coordination, circulation, digestion, metabolism, stress, anxiety and depression|
|Counterposes:||Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold Pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose), Balasana (Child’s Pose), Tadasana (Mountain Pose)|
|Preparatory poses:||Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Warrior II Pose (Virabhadrasana II), Triangle Pose (Trikonasana), High Lunge Pose (Alanasana)|
|Follow-up poses:||Tree Pose (Vrikshasana), Seated Forward Bend Pose (Paschimottanasana), Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana), Reclining Spinal Twist Pose (Supta Matsyendrasana)|
|Contraindications:||High blood pressure or glaucoma, wrist, ankle, or shoulder problem, the third trimester of pregnancy|
The Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana is a Sanskrit term that can be broken down into six components — Eka + Pada + Adho + Mukha + Svana + Asana:
- “Eka” = “one” or “single”
- “Pada” = “leg”
- “Adho” = “downward”
- “Mukha” = “facing”
- “Svana” = “dog”
- “Asana” = “pose” or “posture”
So, the literal translation of “Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana” is “One Legged Downward Facing Dog Pose”.
In Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana, one leg is raised off the ground and extended behind the body, while the hands and other foot stay firmly planted on the ground. The body resembles that of a dog stretching and lengthening itself in a forward fold, hence the reference to the dog in the pose name.
Benefits of Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana
The pose provided numerous physical and mental benefits, which are listed below:
- Strengthens the legs, arms, and core muscles
- Stretches the hips, hamstrings, calves, and ankles
- Improves balance, stability, and coordination
- Increases blood flow to the brain and improves circulation
- Stimulates digestion and helps to improve metabolism
- Strengthens the wrists and arms
- Reduces stress, anxiety, and depression
- Improves focus and concentration
- Calms the mind and helps to relieve tension
- Increases self-awareness and mindfulness
- Improves overall sense of well-being and balance
- Helps to cultivate inner peace and tranquility
One Legged Downward Facing Dog Pose Practice Guide
One Legged Downward Facing Dog Pose is a popular variation of Downward Facing Dog Pose, often incorporated in Vinyasa flow sequences. This pose is commonly used during transitions, particularly when moving into a series of asymmetrical postures such as Sun Salutation B or Dancing Warrior.
This posture entails standing on one leg and stretching the other leg up and back, while the hands and other foot stay on the floor. While it might seem that bringing one leg up from Downward Facing Dog Pose is simple, it requires you to pay special attention to how you perform in order to gain the full advantages of this pose. Maintaining proper alignment, such as keeping your hips squared, shoulders even, and creating a stable foundation, is crucial.
- Start in Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana).
- Inhale and lift your right leg off the ground behind you.
- Keep your hips level with each other as you raise the right leg, ensuring they stay parallel to the ground.
- Continue lowering your left heel toward the floor while maintaining equal weight in both arms.
- Lengthen through the raised right heel and the top of your head.
- After holding the pose with squared hips for a few breaths, you can open your right hip by stacking it over your left hip. This will provide a good hip stretch and allow your right leg to lift higher.
- While opening the hips, keep your torso from twisting to the left.
- With your hips open, you can bend your right knee and bring your right heel toward your left buttock.
- After a few breaths, straighten your right leg and re-square your hips with the ground.
- Lower your right foot to the ground, take a few deep breaths in Downward Facing Dog Pose, and then repeat the process on the left side.
- Focus on maintaining a strong and stable foundation in your hands and arms. Spread your fingers wide and press firmly into the mat to support your upper body.
- Keep your core engaged throughout the pose. This will help you stabilize and control your movements.
- Pay attention to your hip alignment. Keep your hips squared and level with each other to maintain proper alignment and balance.
- Gradually work on extending your lifted leg higher without compromising your alignment. Start with a comfortable height and gradually increase the range of motion as you build strength and flexibility.
- Don’t forget to breathe deeply and evenly. Deep breaths will help you stay centered and focused in the pose.
- If you’re having difficulty balancing, you can practice near a wall for support. Place your hands on the wall while maintaining the pose, allowing you to focus on your alignment and balance.
- Take your time and be patient with your progress. One-Legged Downward Facing Dog can be challenging at first, but with consistent practice, your balance, and stability will improve.
- Listen to your body and modify the pose as needed. If you experience any pain or discomfort, ease off or seek guidance from a qualified yoga instructor.
Avoid following common mistakes and practice the pose mindfully and with proper alignment, so you can safely and effectively reap the benefits of One Legged Downward Facing Dog Pose:
- Allowing your lifted hip to open: It’s important to keep your hips level and squared towards the ground in order to maintain proper alignment and balance. Try to keep both hip bones facing downwards.
- Collapsing in your supporting shoulder: Be sure to keep your arms strong and stable, avoiding any unnecessary strain in your supporting shoulder.
- Forgetting to engage your core: Strong core engagement helps to maintain proper alignment and control throughout the pose, preventing any unnecessary sway or imbalance.
- Placing too much weight on your lifted arm: To maintain balance and prevent straining the shoulder of your elevated arm, distribute your weight evenly between both arms.
- Holding your breath: It’s essential to breathe deeply and evenly throughout the pose to help calm the mind and stabilize the body.
- Lifting your leg too high: While it may be enticing to raise your leg as far as possible, maintaining appropriate alignment and avoiding compromising the stability of your supporting arm and shoulder is essential.
- Forgetting to switch sides: Be sure to practice the pose on both sides to create balance in the body and prevent any imbalances or asymmetries.
Modifications and variations
Modifications and variations can help you tailor the pose to your individual needs and abilities, making it accessible and enjoyable for everyone. However, the modifications and variations of One Legged Downward Facing Dog Pose (Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana) are explained below:
- Use blocks under your hands to bring the floor closer to you if you have limited flexibility in your hamstrings.
- If you’re having difficulty keeping your lifted leg straight, you can bend your knee and hold onto your ankle or foot with one or both hands.
- If you have wrist pain or discomfort, you can come down onto your forearms instead of your hands.
- If you find it difficult to balance, you can practice the pose with your lifted leg resting against a wall or using a chair for support.
- From One-Legged Downward Facing Dog, transition to One-Legged Plank by bringing your right knee to your right tricep and holding for a few breaths before returning to Downward Dog and repeating on the left side.
- Add a twist by bringing your lifted leg across your body toward your opposite elbow, and then return to One-Legged Downward Facing Dog.
- Try a side plank variation by extending your lifted leg out to the side, and then return to One-Legged Downward Facing Dog.
- You can also challenge your balance by lifting your extended leg a little higher, or by experimenting with closing your eyes.
Precautions and contraindications
Precautions and contraindications must be considered before practicing Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana so that you can prevent any potential hazards or pain.
Consider the following warnings and contraindications for Downward Facing Dog Split Pose:
- High blood pressure or glaucoma: Individuals with high blood pressure or glaucoma should avoid lowering their heads for a long period of time below their hearts. Inverted poses like Downward Facing Dog can increase blood pressure and intraocular pressure, which can be dangerous for those with these conditions. Instead, consider modifying the pose by using a wall or chair for support.
- Wrist, ankle, or shoulder problem: If you’ve been experiencing problems with your wrists, ankles, or shoulders, it’s critical that you practice your posture properly and correctly. Consider using props like blocks or straps to help support your body and alleviate any strain or discomfort. If the pain or discomfort persists, it is recommended to avoid the posture or see a medical expert.
- The third trimester of pregnancy: As the body changes during pregnancy, it is critical to avoid poses that may be uncomfortable or harmful. One Legged Downward Facing Dog Pose can put pressure on the abdomen and pelvic region, which may be uncomfortable or even harmful in the later stages of pregnancy. Instead, consider modifying the pose by using a chair or wall for support, or avoiding the pose altogether.