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Doga: 30 Variations of Downward Facing Dog
Time Image Pose Description
yoga pose Downward Facing DogStart in Mountain. Forward bend. Step feet back one at time. Lift buttocks. Lengthen spine. Press down through heels. Tuck chin in. Look at feet. Release jaw.
Alternatives: Dolphin.
Sanskrit: Adho Mukha Svanasana
Benefits: Stretches spine, hams, shoulders. Calms nervous system.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/ayRU3ecmPbI?rel=0
Modifications: A) Use a wall. B) Head on a block. C) Leg up. D) Arm up. E) Wide stance.
Precautions : Pregnant. High blood pressure. Headache.
yoga pose DolphinCome onto hands and knees. Press forearms into floor. Curl toes under. Lift knees away from floor. Keep knees slightly bent. Heels lifted. Press forearms actively into floor. Hold head between upper arms. Straighten knees. Lengthen tailbone away from pelvis.
Sanskrit: Makarasana
Benefits: Stretches shoulders, hams, calves. Strengthens arms, and legs.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/tptnGIyB-ms?rel=0
Modifications: A) If upper back rounds, bend your knees. B) Support feet with folded blanket if they don’t remain firm on mat. C) Support elbows with blankets. D) Support head on Yoga block or folded cushion (if pose feels difficult). E) Use wall to support feet. F) Support forearms facing wall.
Precautions : Shoulder or neck injury. HBP.
yoga pose HareSit on knees with palms on thighs. Lift arms above head. Bend forward from hips, keeping arms and head in a straight line. Hands and forehead rest on floor in front of knees. Bend elbows so arms are relaxed. Hold. Raise arms and body back to start position.
Sanskrit: Shashankasana
Benefits: Hip opener. Stretches inner thighs, groins, hips. Eases sciatic pain.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/hMY5Vv7-oYk
Modifications: Blanket under knees.
Precautions : Knee or ankle injuries. Back pain.
yoga pose ProstrationSit on knees (Vajrasana). Take hold of lower calves. Bend forward. Place crown of head on floor in front of knees. Raise buttocks until thighs are vertical. Gently press chin against chest. Hold.
Sanskrit: Naman Pranamasana
Benefits: Engage core. Preparation for head and shoulderstands.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/0vZyCHBEWHo
Modifications: Headstand.
Precautions : Neck injury. Lightheaded. HBP. Pregnant.
yoga pose Extended PuppyCome to all fours. Walk hands in front lowering chest down to floor. Keep hips raised over knees. Release forehead to floor. Stretch arms.
Sanskrit: Uttana Shishosana
Benefits: Hip opener. Stretches inner thighs, groins, hips.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/TKDdMTmS08g?rel=0
Precautions : Knee or ankle injuries. Back pain.
yoga pose Standing Fold Knees Bent IStand in Mountain. Stretch arms overhead. Bend knees and bring hands to floor in front of feet. Look forward. Engage Core.
Alternatives: Tabletop. Gorilla.
Sanskrit: Ardha Uttanasana Modification
Benefits: Stretch back, hams. Improves posture.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/_q4p-DkYEgY
Modifications: Bent knees. Loop fingers around big toes.
yoga pose Downward Facing Dog Knees BentStart in Mountain. Forward bend. Step feet back one at time. Lift buttocks. Lengthen spine. Bend knees. Tuck chin in. Look at feet. Release jaw.
Alternatives: Down Dog. Dolphin.
Sanskrit: Adho Mukha Svanasana
Benefits: Stretches spine, hams, shoulders. Calms nervous system.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/GuxnaIcILFQ
Modifications: Use wall. Head on block. Leg up. Arm up. Wide stance.
Precautions : Pregnant. HBP. Headache.
yoga pose Crouching CatCome onto hands and knees. Bring knees hip width apart. Palms directly under shoulders. Fingers facing forward. Gaze down. Flat back. Press into palms to drop shoulders away from ears. Raise up keeping legs bent. Spread legs wide apart. Look forward.
Alternatives: Cat. Cow. Down dog. Dolphin.
Sanskrit: Bharmanasana
Benefits: Lengthens spine. Lubricates hips.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/AahHg0WHvcI
Modifications: Move weight from one foot to another.
Precautions : Wrist injury.
yoga pose Downward Facing Dog Wide StanceStart in Mountain. Forward bend. Step feet back out wide one at time. Lift buttocks. Lengthen spine. Press down through heels. Tuck chin in. Look at feet. Release jaw.
Alternatives: Dolphin.
Sanskrit: Adho Mukha Svanasana
Benefits: Stretches spine, hams, shoulders. Calms nervous system.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/ayRU3ecmPbI?rel=0
Modifications: A) Use wall. B) Head on block. C) Leg up. D) Arm up.
Precautions : Pregnant. HBP. Headache.
yoga pose Wide Leg Forward BendStart in Mountain. Widen legs. Hands on hips. Fold forward from hips into Forward Bend. Release torso down on exhale. Hands to floor. Walk feet wider apart. Release head. Lengthen legs on inhale. Release torso on exhale. To release bring hands to hips and lift up.
Sanskrit: Prasarita Padottanasana
Benefits: Strengthens and stretches legs, spine. Tones abs.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/gYeXUJdUsxg?rel=0
Modifications: Raise hands on block.
Precautions : Low back injury.
yoga pose Standing Fold Arm LockStand in Mountain. Stretch arms overhead. Bend knees slightly. Fold forward from waste. Interlock fingers. Bring arms behind back. Back of neck soft. Hold. Release.
Alternatives: Tabletop. Gorilla.
Sanskrit: Paschimottasana
Benefits: Stretch back, hams, shoulders & wrists. Improves posture.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/hrp6Q_QyDkc?rel=0
Modifications: Bent knees. Loop fingers around big toes.
Precautions : Back, knee, hamstrings injury.
yoga pose Down Dog PedalCome into Downward Facing Dog. Come up onto toes. Exhale, lower right heel to mat. Inhale, raise up onto toes. Exhale, lower left heel. Repeat.
Alternatives: Dolphin. Down Dog with raised leg.
Sanskrit: Adho Mukha Svanasana
Benefits: Stretches spine, hams, shoulders. Calms nervous system.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/L6EDfyBQdzo
Modifications: Use wall. Head on block. Leg up. Arm up. Wide stance.
Precautions : Pregnant. High blood pressure. Headache.
yoga pose Downward Facing Dog Knee To NoseCome into Downward Facing Dog. Raise right leg up and bring knee to nose. Repeat on other side.
Alternatives: Dolphin.
Sanskrit: Adho Mukha Svanasana
Benefits: Stretches spine, hams, shoulders. Calms nervous system.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/PyNP6ZkNvFg
Modifications: Wide stance.
Precautions : Pregnant. Headache.
yoga pose Down Dog LungeStart in Down Dog. Keep spine straight (bend knees if spine isn't straight). Lift right foot up and bring it forward between hands. Drop left heal to floor (left and right heels are aligned). Turn right foot out a little. Place right hand on inside of right thigh. Lower down into a lunge. Lower body. Walk hands forward and extend. Press back foot into floor. Front foot active. Front knee over the ankle. Melt heart so upper body can ease down towards the mat into the classic Down Dog shape. The legs are now in lunge and upper body is in down dog. Repeat on other side.
Alternatives: Down dog. Dolphin. High or low lunge.
Sanskrit: Adho Mukha Svanasana
Benefits: Stretches spine, hams, quads, groin, shoulders. Calms nervous system.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/nTzficwX0Ig
Precautions : Pregnant. High blood pressure. Headache.
yoga pose Downward Facing Dog Leg UpFrom Downward Facing Dog try as many variations as you can: Lift left leg. Lift right leg. Lift left hand. Lift right hand. Lift left leg and right hand. Lift right leg and left hand. Wag your doggie tail. Widen stance. Come up onto toes. Bend knees.
Alternatives: Dolphin.
Sanskrit: Adho Mukha Svanasana
Benefits: Fun.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/ayRU3ecmPbI?rel=0
Modifications: A) Use wall. B) Head on block. C) Leg up. D) Arm up. E) Wide stance.
Precautions : Pregnant.
yoga pose Downward Facing Dog SplitStart in Downward Facing Dog. Raise right leg while keeping hips level (hips stay squared with floor). Equal weight in both arms. Extend through raised right heel and crown of head. After holding pose with hips squared for several breaths, open right hip, stacking it over left hip (allows right leg to go higher). Keep torso from twisting left. Bend right knee. Right heel toward left buttock. Hold. Straighten right leg and square hips toward floor. Release right foot to floor. Repeat on left side.
Sanskrit: Adho Mukha Svanasana
Benefits: Hip stretch.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/yMIqo5YIsA8
Modifications: Head on block.
Precautions : Pregnant. High blood pressure.
yoga pose Standing SplitStart in Mountain with arms at sides. Reach arms overhead. Fold forward into a standing forward bend. Bring both hands to floor and straighten legs. Shift weight onto right foot and equally across both hands. Raise left leg as high as you can behind you. Walk hands back (in direction of your standing heel) to deepen stretch, and draw torso closer to right leg. Relax shoulders. Tuck chin in. Internally rotate left thigh, and square hips toward floor. Keep knee and foot of standing leg facing directly forward. Hold. Repeat on other side.
Alternatives: Forward bend. Tabletop. Gorilla.
Sanskrit: Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana
Benefits: Stretch back, hams. Improves posture.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/f7su7pc4CHg
Modifications: Place hands on blocks. Practice against a wall. Clasp outer ankle of standing leg with opposite-side hand.
Precautions : Ankle, knee, or low back injury.
yoga pose Downward Facing Dog RevolvedCome into Downward Facing Dog. Lift left hand and reach it beneath torso and around to right thigh. Allow waist and torso to twist open to the right. Place left hand on ground to outside of right foot. If that is not possible, rest hand on outside of right shin or upper thigh. Turn head to look underneath right arm. Gaze up. Hold. To release un-twist and return left hand to mat. Come back into Downward-Facing Dog. Repeat on other side.
Alternatives: Dolphin.
Sanskrit: Adho Mukha Svanasana
Benefits: Stretches spine, hams, shoulders. Calms nervous system.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZnJ2f9AHWyM
Modifications: Use wall. Head on block.
Precautions : Pregnant. High blood pressure. Headache.
yoga pose Intense Side Stretch IIIStart in Mountain. Step feet out wide. Hands on hips. Turn left foot in 45 degrees to right. Right foot out to 90 degrees. Align right heel with left heel. Rotate torso to right. Square front of pelvis with front edge of mat. Lean torso forward over right leg. Stop when torso parallel to floor. Press fingertips of right hand to floor and bring left arm behind back. Repeat on left side.
Sanskrit: Ardha Parsvottanasana
Benefits: Stretches spine, wrists, hips, hams. Strengthens legs, abs.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/DhtM6DnQLLM?rel=0
Modifications: Palms to wall. Hands on chair. Back heel pressed to wall.
Precautions : Back injury. HBP.
yoga pose Bound TriangleStand tall. Spread legs wide. Back toes angled slightly forward. Front toes point forward. Bend front knee. Reach left arm under left leg. Reach right arm around to clasp fingers of left hand. Open chest. Lengthen forward leg into class Triangle position. Feel chest opening deeper on each exhale. Switch sides.
Alternatives: Triangle. Extended side angle. Lunge.
Sanskrit: Baddha Trikonasana
Benefits: Stretches abs, legs, groins, hams. Opens chest, shoulders. Strengthens legs, knees, ankles.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/AbvlY-CZEVs
Modifications: Use a strap.
Precautions : Knee or neck injury. High or low blood pressure.
Resources:
yoga pose Down Dog LungeStart in Down Dog. Keep spine straight (bend knees if spine isn't straight). Lift right foot up and bring it forward between hands. Drop left heal to floor (left and right heels are aligned). Turn right foot out a little. Place right hand on inside of right thigh. Lower down into a lunge. Lower body. Walk hands forward and extend. Press back foot into floor. Front foot active. Front knee over the ankle. Melt heart so upper body can ease down towards the mat into the classic Down Dog shape. The legs are now in lunge and upper body is in down dog. Repeat on other side.
Alternatives: Down dog. Dolphin. High or low lunge.
Sanskrit: Adho Mukha Svanasana
Benefits: Stretches spine, hams, quads, groin, shoulders. Calms nervous system.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/nTzficwX0Ig
Precautions : Pregnant. High blood pressure. Headache.
yoga pose Humble WarriorFrom Warrior I, interlace hands behind you in a double fist. Keeping front knee bent, slowly lean forward, placing head as close to ground as possible. Lift arms overhead, holding for several deep breaths. Rise up. Repeat on other side.
Alternatives: Lunges. Warrior I, II or III.
Sanskrit: Baddha Virabhadrasana
Benefits: Stretches chest, lungs, arms, shoulders, neck, belly, groins.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/fXujuk3RIxk
Precautions : High blood pressure. Shoulder, neck or heart problems.
yoga pose Half MonkeyStart in Downward Facing Dog. Step right foot forward in between hands. Lower left knee to ground directly underneath left hip. Tuck left toes for stability. Lift torso above hips, place hands on hips, and ground down into mat. Straighten front leg in front of you so only heel of right foot is connected to floor. Flex front foot. Micro-bend front knee. Tilt pelvis forward. Slowly fold over front leg. Place hands on blocks on either side of front leg, or on floor. Hold or slowly walk hands or blocks forward to increase intensity of stretch. Step back to Downward Facing Dog. Repeat on other side.
Sanskrit: Ardha Hanumanasana
Benefits: Stretches hips, hamstrings, calves, low back. Strengthens hams. Relieves sciatica pain.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/F9V9g87IVXc
Modifications: Blanket under knee.
Precautions : Lower back injury.
Resources:
yoga pose Tripod Headstand PrepSquat. Place hands on floor. Spread fingers. Bend elbows slightly. Place top of head on mat. Extend legs. Lift onto toes. Draw abs in and up.
Alternatives: 1 foot up.
Sanskrit: Bakasana
Benefits: Strengthens arms, shoulders, chest, abs, upper back.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/eXLWMHANqlw?rel=0
Modifications: Curl fingers. Fingertips face each other.
Precautions : Neck injury. Folded blanket (crash mat).
yoga pose Headstand PreparationKneel. Place crown of head onto mat in front of hands (hands don't touch head). Interlock fingers. Tuck chin to chest. Lift knees. Walk toes toward elbows. Push down into elbows (shoulders lift away from ears). Hug upper arms. Bend one knee and tuck it into chest. Engage core. Elbows hold most of the weight (not head or neck). If you lose balance, tuck and roll body forward. Switch sides.
Alternatives: Dolphin Pose.
Sanskrit: Baddha Hasta Sirsasana
Benefits: King of Asanas. Glowing skin. Engage core.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/pZgeoRPr0lY?rel=0
Modifications: Any headstand variation.
Precautions : Neck injury. Lightheaded. HBP. Pregnant.
yoga pose Handstand Against WallCome into Downward Dog (facing away from wall). Place one leg at at time on the wall. Walk feet up wall. Straighten legs when they are parallel to ground. Toes point down. Hands directly underneath shoulders. Hold. To release bend knees and walk feet down to mat
Alternatives: Down Dog. Plank.
Sanskrit: Adho Mukha Vrksasana
Benefits: Balance. Strengthens shoulders, arms, wrists. Stretches abs.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/hPyx0uZvxAo
Modifications: Don't use a wall.
Precautions : Back injury. Heart condition. HBP.
yoga pose Headstand Bound Against WallKneel. Place crown of head onto mat in front of hands (hands don't touch head). Interlock fingers. Tuck chin to chest. Lift knees. Walk toes toward elbows. Push down into elbows (shoulders lift away from ears). Hug upper arms. Bend both knees and tuck into chest. Raise one leg. Engage core. Elbows hold most of the weight (not head or neck). If you lose balance, tuck and roll body forward. Switch legs.
Sanskrit: Baddha Hasta Sirsasana
Benefits: King of Asanas. Glowing skin. Engage core.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/pZgeoRPr0lY?rel=0
Modifications: Use a wall.
Precautions : Neck injury. Lightheaded. HBP. Pregnant.
yoga pose Down Dog Lunge PartnerPartner A comes into Downward Facing Dog Pose. Partner B puts right foot under Partner A's head, and comes into a Lunge Pose with legs not too wide apart, or comes into a Squat Pose, and puts pressure onto Partner A's lower back.
Sanskrit: Adho Mukha Svanasana
Benefits: Strengthens arms, shoulders, sides, chest, and back.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/7HVYI5oGHIo
Precautions : Back or knee injury.
yoga pose Down Dog Child PartnerPartner A gets into Child pose. Partner B gets into Downward Facing Dog pose by putting pressure on Partner A's lower back.
Sanskrit: Adho Mukha Svanasana
Benefits: Strengthens arms, shoulders, sides, chest, back.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/3MnDc1lbjfo
Precautions : Back or knee injury.
yoga pose Double Dog PartnerPartner A gets into Downward Facing Dog. Partner B places hands on mat in front of Parter A's hands and places feet on their hips.
Benefits: Strengthens arms, core, legs. Engages core.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/YtM5SpZeGzI
Precautions : Wrist injury.
yoga pose Plank Dog PartnerPartner A gets into Downward Facing Dog. Partner B does a Side Plank by placing a hand on Partner A’s lower back.
Sanskrit: Kumbhakasana
Benefits: Strengthens arm and shoulders.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/i1wJFL94dYE
Precautions : Back injury.

This plan has 30 variations and modifications for Downward Facing Dog Pose - ordered by level of difficulty.

Down Dog is the most popular yoga pose for most yogis.

And with good reason.

Down Dog creates space within your spine for healing light to pour through. And if that's not good enough to get chipper about, it also: stretches & opens shoulders, calms the nervous system, stimulates abdominal organs & thyroid gland, helps relieve symptoms of menopause, reduces stress & fatigue, therapeutic for backache, headache, infertility, insomnia & sinusitis, tones arms, sculpts thighs, and will set the entire backside of your body free.

Not bad for ONE pose, heh!

When practicing one or more of these Down Dog variations, ask yourself one of the dog philosophy mantras (help you tune into dog power).

Dog Philosophy Mantras

I call upon dog power for one pointed focus.”

“I call upon dog power to find more time for fun."

“I call upon dog power to prioritise fun today."

“I call upon dog power to become a champion of service and find ways to be of service to my friends, family and community?”

“I call upon dog power to be aware when a friend or family member is in need, so that I can reach out and be of service to them?”

“I call upon dog power to take myself less seriously and wag my tail for no reason in particular...just to celebrate life."

“I call upon dog power to enjoy the moment.”