Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana (Three Legged Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana (Three Legged Downward Facing Dog Pose) - Sharp Muscle
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Updated: February 18, 2023

The Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana, also known as Three Legged Downward Facing Dog Pose, strengthens the core, shoulders and arms, while stretching the quadriceps.

Practicing Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana (Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana) is a great way to warm up your body and prepare it for deep posture.

It adds flow and fun to your practice, while providing a great challenge to your body and mind. Shake up your practice with this variety, and you may find that feeling of freedom extends to all areas of your life, on and off the mat.

Information

Known as:Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana, Three Legged Downward Facing Dog Pose, Three-Legged Dog Pose, Tail of the Dog Pose, Tripod Downward Facing Dog Pose, Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana
Sanskrit name:त्रिपाद अधोमुख शवासन
IAST:Tri Pāda Adho Mukha Śvānāsana
Pronunciation:Tri Pa-da Ah-doh MOO-kuh shvan-AHS-uh-nuh
Level:Intermediate
Type:Forward-bend, inversion, balance
Focus:Entire body, Arm, shoulder, core, hamstrings, gastrocnemius, gluteus maximus, spinal extensors
Total time:30 to 60 seconds
Drishti:Between the legs or toward the navel
Chakra:Sahasrara Chakra, Ajna Chakra, Anahata Chakra, Manipura Chakra, Svadisthana Chakra, Muladhara Chakra
Indications:Full-body stretching, strength building, nervous system, stress, headaches, fatigue, poor digestion, back pain
Counterposes:Tadasana (Mountain Pose), Balasana (Child’s Pose), Shashankasana (Rabbit Pose), Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold Pose), Ardha Uttanasana ( Half Standing Forward Fold Pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Preparatory poses:Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Tabletop Pose (Bharmanasana), High Plank Pose (Phalakasana), Cow Pose (Bitilasana), Dolphin Pose (Catur Svanasana), Four Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana), Eight Limbed Pose (Ashtangasana)
Follow-up poses:Ardha Pincha Mayurasana (Dolphin Pose), Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose), Urdva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose)
Contraindications:High blood pressure, carpal tunnel syndrome, late-term pregnancy, back, arms, or shoulders injuries, eye or inner ear infections

Meaning

Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana

The Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana is derived from the Sanskrit name, which is made up of six words — Tri + Pada + Adho + Mukha + Svana + Asana:

  1. Tri” = “three”
  2. Pada” = “foot or leg”
  3. Adho” = “downward”
  4. Mukha” = “facing”
  5. Svana” = “dog”
  6. Asana” = “pose or posture”

Benefits of Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana (Three Legged Downward Facing Dog Pose)

The physical and mental benefits of this yoga are listed below:

  1. Physical Benefits:
    • Stretches the spine, ankles, calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, gluteus, knees, and abdominal muscles
    • Strengthens the biceps and triceps
    • Improve the hip flexibility
    • Opens the hips, ankles, knees, shoulders, elbows, and wrists
    • Improves the balance
    • Soothes and calms the nervous system
    • Reduces the headaches or even a migraine
    • Increase the blood flow to the rest of the body
  2. Mental Benefits:
    • Enhancee the focus and concentration
    • Calms the mind
    • Reduces the stress
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Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana (Three Legged Downward Facing Dog Pose) Practice Guide

Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana (Three Legged Downward Facing Dog Pose) Steps - Sharp Muscle
© image: Instagram/melan

Instructions

  • Begin in Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana), as this is the foundation for Three-Legged Dog Pose or Down Dog Split Pose. Press your hands firmly on the floor, especially your hand on the opposite side of the leg you are going to lift.
  • Raise one leg straight up in the air, keeping it fully engaged to the toes. Press the toes of your other foot firmly on the floor.
  • Be careful not to over spread the toes of your lower leg. You want to keep a solid grip with the feet on the mat. Maintain a subtle bend to prevent your knee from rolling inward. Always keep your knee facing forward.
  • You can either open the hips or keep them closed (i.e., both your hip bones are facing the floor).
  • Unlike the norm of Adho Mukha Svanasana, you can raise the head a bit more here.
  • Pushing your hands forward into the mat, raise your raised leg. Raise your heels in the air.
  • Engage your glute muscles on the side of your raised leg.
  • Keep pulling your navel towards the spine to maintain the engagement of your abdominal muscles, as this will give you stability in the posture.
  • Align the ears with the upper arms. Relax the head, but don’t let it hang. Gaze between the legs or towards the navel.
  • Stay in this pose for 30-60 seconds.
  • To release yourself from the pose, as you exhale, lower the right foot to the mat and place it next to the left foot. Repeat the process on the opposite side.

Alignment tips

1. Build strength and stability with the arms

Since you have only three pillars in Tripad Adho Mukha Svanasana, you need to pay special attention that your foundation is stable. This is why you want to build strength and stability with your arms. Not only do you have to push them firmly into the ground, but you also have to pay attention to outward rotation of the upper arms and pronation of the forearms. You can find a detailed description of these two actions in Adho Mukha Svanasana.

2. Engage the core

Another important factor in creating stability in this pose is the engagement of the core. Draw your navel in towards your spine as this will engage your abdominal muscles and give you an extra lift in the pose. You will need it because you are missing a pillar of support in this pose.

3. Raised toe pull

Imagine that there is a long line of energy from your palms to the toes of your raised foot. Increase this energy by pushing your hands on the floor, lifting your shoulders, raising your tailbone further, and pulling your toes away from you.

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4. Keep weight evenly distributed

Practitioners often allow all of their body weight to fall on the side of their foot that is on the floor. This can result in a smaller waist and an arched back as the other leg is raised. Work against this trend by consciously lengthening both of your waists. To do this, actively press your thigh back and up on the standing leg. Simultaneously lift your other leg completely, that is, instead of just throwing the shin up, start lifting it from the root of your thigh.

5. Maintain the concave shape of the back

You will notice that as you raise one of your legs in the air, the lower back becomes rounded. Maintain the curve in your lower back by focusing even more on pushing your tailbone up and creating a slight ducktail. If necessary, bend your standing leg a little more than Adho Mukha Svanasana. Also make sure that both your sitting bones remain at the same level. Typically, the sit bone of your standing leg becomes neglected and collapses.

Common mistakes

Making common mistakes in the pose can impact your practice by reducing the effectiveness of the pose and increasing the risk of injury. It’s important to focus on maintaining proper alignment and listening to your body to avoid these mistakes and get the most out of your practice.

Here are some common mistakes to avoid while practicing Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana (Three Legged Downward Facing Dog Pose):

  • Collapsing into your lower back: If you allow your lower back to collapse as you lift your leg, it can strain your back muscles and lead to discomfort. Instead, engage your core muscles and maintain a neutral spine throughout the sequence.
  • Rounding your shoulders: As you lift your leg, it’s common to hunch your shoulders up towards your ears. This can cause tension in your neck and upper back. Instead, keep your shoulders away from your ears and engage your shoulder blades to keep your shoulders stable.
  • Allowing your hips to twist: It’s important to keep your hips level as you lift your leg to avoid twisting through your lower back. If you notice that one hip is higher than the other, come out of the pose and realign your hips.
  • Dumping weight into your wrists: If you allow your weight to sink into your wrists, it can strain your wrists and cause discomfort. Instead, spread your fingers wide and press firmly into your hands to distribute your weight evenly.
  • Forgetting to breathe: As with any yoga practice, it’s important to breathe deeply and mindfully throughout the sequence. If you find that you’re holding your breath, take a moment to pause and refocus on your breath.
  • Moving too quickly: It’s important to move mindfully and with intention through each movement. If you rush through the sequence, you may lose your balance or strain your muscles. Instead, take your time and focus on maintaining proper alignment.
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Modifications

Remember, it’s important to listen to your body and make modifications as needed. If you experience pain or discomfort, come out of the pose and seek guidance from a qualified yoga teacher/instructor.

Here are some modifications you can make to Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana (Three Legged Downward Facing Dog Pose):

  • Keep the lifted leg bent: If you find it challenging to straighten your lifted leg, you can keep the knee bent and focus on maintaining proper alignment in the rest of the body.
  • Use a block under the lifted hand: If you have trouble reaching the ground with your lifted hand, you can place a block under your hand to bring the floor closer to you. This modification can help you maintain proper alignment in the shoulders and prevent strain in the wrist.
  • Use a wall for support: If you have trouble with balance in this pose, you can practice with your feet against a wall for support. Start with your feet about a foot away from the wall and gradually move them closer as you gain more confidence and strength in the pose.
  • Keep the lifted leg on the ground: If lifting your leg off the ground is too challenging, you can keep the foot on the ground and focus on maintaining proper alignment in the rest of the body. This modification can help you build strength and stability in the legs.
  • Practice with a strap: If you have trouble reaching your foot with your lifted hand, you can use a strap to hold onto your foot. Place the strap around the ball of your foot and hold onto the ends of the strap with your lifted hand. This modification can help you maintain proper alignment in the shoulders and prevent strain in the wrist.

Precautions and contraindications

Taking these precautions and contraindications into consideration is important to avoid exacerbating existing injuries or creating new ones. It’s important to listen to your body and make modifications as needed to practice safely and comfortably.

Here are some precautions and contraindications for Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana (Three Legged Downward Facing Dog Pose) and why they are important to consider:

  • Wrist or shoulder injuries: If you have a wrist or shoulder injury, Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana may not be appropriate for you. This pose places weight on the hands and shoulders, which can exacerbate an existing injury. It’s important to consult with a qualified yoga teacher or healthcare provider before practicing this pose.
  • Lower back pain: If you have lower back pain, you may need to modify or skip this pose. Lifting the leg can create tension in the lower back, which can exacerbate pain. It’s important to listen to your body and make modifications as needed to avoid discomfort or pain.
  • High blood pressure: If you have high blood pressure, you may need to avoid holding your breath in this pose. Holding the breath can increase blood pressure and create tension in the body. It’s important to focus on slow, deep breathing and avoid any breath retention in this pose.
  • Pregnancy: If you are pregnant, you may need to modify or skip this pose. Lifting the leg can create pressure on the abdomen and lower back, which may be uncomfortable or unsafe during pregnancy. It’s important to consult with a qualified yoga teacher or healthcare provider before practicing this pose during pregnancy.
  • Neck injuries: If you have a neck injury, you may need to avoid twisting your neck in this pose. Twisting the neck can create tension and exacerbate an existing injury. It’s important to focus on maintaining length in the spine and avoiding any unnecessary twisting in the neck.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, you may need to modify or skip this pose. Putting weight on the hands and wrists can exacerbate symptoms and cause pain. You can modify the pose by using yoga blocks or placing the forearms on the ground instead of the hands.
  • Eye or inner ear infections: If you have an eye or inner ear infection, you may need to avoid practicing this pose. Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana involves looking up and balancing on one leg, which can exacerbate symptoms and cause discomfort. It’s important to wait until the infection has cleared before practicing this pose.

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