3 mistakes everyone makes with their Downward Facing Dog

Common Down Dog mistakes, and how to fix them

Woman doing downward facing dog yoga pose in living room
(Image credit: Getty)

Downward Facing Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana, is a foundational yoga pose that crops up time and time again. But just because you've done it hundreds of times doesn't necessarily mean you're doing it correctly. In fact there are some common mistakes lots of people make with their Down Dog. 

This is one of those yoga poses that looks simple – most of us wouldn't consider it amongst the trickiest yoga poses to master – but there are plenty of nuances to be aware of if you want to do it properly. And because you're doing it tens of times in a class, it makes sense to make sure you've got it down perfectly, right? The handy video below highlights three of the biggest mistakes people make with their Downward Facing Dog, and how to correct them.

The video comes from yoga teacher Briohny Smyth (@yogawithbriohny (opens in new tab)), who says these are the common errors she says:

1. Your shoulders are slouched

Your shoulders should be integrated into the pose, so make sure you're not slouching into them. Spread your shoulder blades wide, and suck your navel in and upwards.

2. Your torso is too far forward

You need to be careful with the length of your Downward Dog, and how your hips are positioned. To find the correct alignment, Briohny suggests drawing your hips upward towards the ceiling, and your chest towards the back end of your yoga mat. You can keep a micro-bend your knees to enable you to find more length in your torso. 

3. You've forgotten about your hands

It might seem like a minor thing, but how your hands sit on the mat in this pose is important to ensure you don't damage your wrists. Make sure your hands are spread flat on the mat. Push your weight firmly through them, rooting down through the base of your knuckles, to create a solid base for your pose.

Perfected your Downward Facing Dog? Try these yoga poses for runners, or chill out with the best yoga poses to do before bed. You might also want to invest in one of the best yoga bricks, which can be useful for everything from providing stability, to checking alignment, to pushing yourself further in your stretches.

Ruth is currently on secondment as Sleep Editor for Tom's Guide and TechRadar. The role is an extension of her work on T3, where she ran the site's Wellness channel, which includes sleep, relaxation, yoga and general wellbeing. She was also Outdoors editor, reviewing and writing about everything from camping gear and hiking boots to mountain bikes, drones and paddle boards. She has tested more mattresses than her small flat can handle, and has had to implement a one-in-one-out pillow policy, for fear of getting smothered in the night.