5 Hidden Benefits of Downward Facing Dog

If you’ve attended a yoga class, you've probably done downward-facing dog pose. Downward-facing dog is a foundational pose found in various vinyasa yoga flows, and for many of us, we initially feel the stretch in the arms, the back, and the legs. That’s the obvious, but there are so many other benefits to exploring downward-facing dog. Downward-facing dog is a very challenging pose, as the muscles are working to hold the pose against gravity.

5 HIDDEN BENEFITS OF DOWNWARD FACING DOG:
STRENGTHENS ABDOMINAL MUSCLES

Envision turning downward-facing dog right side up into boat pose. Just as you would with boat pose, engaging the belly in downward-facing dog strengthens and abdominal muscles that support the spine.

IMPROVES CIRCULATION

Many tend to forget that downward-facing dog is an inversion! As the hips lift and the head drops below the heart, the pull of gravity is reversed and fresh blood flows, aiding in circulation.

IMPROVES DIGESTION

Although downward-facing dog is not a full bend or fold, the pose does allow for slight abdominal compression by drawing the navel into the spine. The pose compresses the organs like the kidneys, liver and the spleen, aiding in digestion.

TONES THE HANDS AND FEET

Downward-facing dog is weight-bearing pose that prepares hands and feet for standing and arm balancing poses.

DECREASES ANXIETY

Stretching the cervical spine and the neck allows the head and your mind to relax.

So the next time you’re in downward-facing dog, enjoy the obvious and not-so-obvious benefits of the pose!

This article originally appeared in gaia.