Three-Legged Dog
TRI PĀDA ADHO MUKHA ŚVĀNĀSANA (त्रि पादा अधो मुख श्वानासन)
(tri paah-dah AH-doh MOO-kah Shva-NAAH-sah-nah)

 


‘Tri’= three, Pāda’= foot or leg, ‘Adho’= down or downward, ‘Mukha’= face, Śvāsa’= dog,
‘āsana’= posture


Alternate Names

Three-Legged Downward Facing Dog
One-Legged Downward Facing Dog (Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Tripod Downward Facing Dog Pose
Tail of the Dog Pose
Balancing Dog

Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Pose Type: Standing / Inversion / Stretch / Forward-Bend / Balance

1. Start in Table Pose (Bharmanasana), on your hands and knees, with your knees under your hips and your shoulders over your wrists. Press down through your palms, spreading your fingers, to ground yourself in this posture. Be sure not to lock the elbows.
2. Lengthen the back of your neck to be in line with your spine and curl your toes under.
3. Pressing into your palms, exhale, and engage your core to lift your hips up and back, making sure that your arms and shoulders are aligned. Your upper arms should frame your ears, with your shoulder blades rotated externally and drawn down and flat, so that your chest is open and broad.
4. With your feet about hip-distance apart, use your quadriceps to gradually push your legs straight, being mindful not to lock your knees. If possible, press your heels to the mat.
5. Continue engaging your core to lengthen your torso and pull the belly into the spine, as you lift your right leg and reach your toes to the sky. Alternatively, you can flex your foot.
6. Make sure that your hips are squared so that your lifted right leg is aligned with the arms, shoulders, spine, and hips. Keep the neck soft and gaze toward the left knee or ankle.
7. Hold the pose for several breaths (about 20 seconds), then slowly release back to the mat into Table Pose (Bharmanasana). Repeat on the other side.

Common Adjustments
• Shoulders not broad and open or are lifted towards ears (not rotated externally)
• Fingers not spread out and facing forward / Too much strain on the wrists
• Neck strained / Head dropping / Chin tucked in
• Spine rounded / Core not engaged / Pelvis tucked under / Hips not squared to front of mat
• Knees and/or elbows locked
• Extended leg not aligned with the shoulders and hips

Modifications
• Students whose heel comes off the floor, or need to increase their flexibility, can place their heel on the wall or place a blanket, bolster, foam wedge, or folded mat under the heels for support.
• Students with little flexibility in the spine, have too much pressure in the lower back, shoulder, or neck, cannot keep their legs straight, or have tightness in the hips or hamstrings, should keep the knee of the supporting leg slightly bent.
• Students who are pregnant or have extreme weakness or tightness in the upper extremities, should practice standing in front of a wall. Have them bend at the hips, an arm’s length away from the wall. With their feet under their hips, have them push into the wall so that their hips are as far back as comfortable. Alternatively, they can practice Cat Cow Pose (Durga-Go).
• Students with wrist injury or discomfort and/or shoulder tightness, can either elevate the wrists with a blanket, folded mat, or bolster, or form fists and practice on their knuckles. They can also go down on their forearms into Dolphin Pose (Ardha Piñcha Mayūrāsana) - with or without a block – before extending their leg up.
• To reduce shoulder strain and/or discomfort, and open the shoulders, students can either a) bring their hands and shoulders out slightly wider, b) place their hands on blocks or a chair, or c) place blocks under the forearms to keep the elbows from hyperextending.
• Students who have difficulty gripping the mat can practice with their heels or fingers against a wall. Alternatively, they can also practice by holding onto the corners of the mat.
• Students whose head feels heavy, have high blood pressure, frequent headaches, or a stiff spine should always place a blanket, bolster, or block under the head (Salamba Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana).

Counter Poses
• Reverse Warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana)
• Child’s Pose (Balasana)
• Extended Child’s Pose (Utthita Balasana)
• Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
• Plow (Halasana)
• Cat (Marjaryasana)
• Wild Thing Pose or Flip the Dog Pose (Camatkarasana)

Anatomy
• Chest (Pectoralis Major and Minor)• Shoulders (Deltoids)
• Abdomen (Core) and Obliques• Biceps and Triceps
• Wrists• Upper (Cervical), Middle (Thoracic), and Lower (Lumbar) Back and Spine
• Hips (Psoas)• Gluteus Maximus, Medius, and Minimus (Glutes)
• Quadriceps and Hamstrings• Calf muscles and Ankles

Benefits
• Stretches and strengthens the hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, chest, back, spine, abdomen, hips, groin, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, knees, calf muscles, ankles, and feet as well as strengthens tendons and ligaments. This also helps improve flexibility in the spine as well as maintaining the joints in the hips, knees, and ankles.
• Opens the shoulders, chest, and hips and helps with posture and alignment of the shoulders and spine.
• Stimulates the respiratory system, which is therapeutic for students with asthma, palpitations, sinusitis, and breathlessness.
• Aids with stiffness and tension around the spine, shoulder blades, heels, and ankles, as well as soothes backaches, tension, sciatica, arthritis in the shoulder joints, heel pain, neck aches, osteoporosis, symptoms of menopause and menstrual discomfort (when the head is supported).
• Stimulates the stomach and intestines aiding in digestion, as well as stimulates the circulatory system. This is therapeutic for students with indigestion, constipation, gastritis, and acidity.
• Stimulates the brain and nervous system, energizing the body, which relieves insomnia, fatigue, stress, anxiety, and mild depression while improving focus, willpower, confidence, balance, concentration, coordination, and memory.
• Great preparatory pose for handstand, headstand, and standing splits.

Contraindications
1. Students with neck, back, shoulder, arm, hip, and/or back injuries, slipped disc, headaches/migraines, weakness in the knees and/or legs, diarrhea, insomnia, vertigo, eye strain, glaucoma, eye or inner ear infections, and/or low blood pressure should avoid this pose or seek guidance and modifications. Also, students prone to shoulder dislocation, should not rotate their shoulders externally.
2. Pregnant students should not practice after the first trimester.
3. Students with severe hip concerns or hip replacements should avoid this pose or seek guidance.
4. Students with heart complications or high blood pressure should be cautious in this pose.
5. Students with wrist issues, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or repetitive strains, should void this pose. If practiced, practice with props and modifications.
6. Some students may become fatigued, advise them to move into Child’s Pose (Balasana) to rest. Additionally, modifications, such as: Using a chair for the hands will help to reduce fatigue.

Chakras
Chakra One:Root or Muladhara (root support) Chakra. This is the survival and gravity chakra. Its goals are stability, grounding, prosperity, right livelihood, and physical health. Its location is the base of the spine, coccygeal plexus, legs, feet, and large intestines.
Chakra TwoSacral or Svadhisthana (sweetness) Chakra. This is the chakra for emotion, sexuality, and attraction of opposites. Its goals are fluidity, pleasure, and relaxation. Its location is the abdomen, genitals, lower back, and hips.
Chakra Four:Heart, Love, or Anahata (Unstuck) Chakra. This is the love and equilibrium chakra. Its goals are balance, compassion, and acceptance. Its location is the heart.
Chakra Six:Third-Eye or Ajna (to perceive) Chakra. This is the intuition and projection chakra. Its goals are psychic perception and imagination. Its location is the brow.
Chakra Seven:Crown or Sahasrara (Thousandfold) Chakra. This is the understanding and consciousness chakra. Its goals are wisdom, knowledge, and spiritual connection. Its location is the top of the head.

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