Downward-facing dog or adho mukha svanasana, in Sanskrit, is the quintessential inversion pose. As an integral part of sun salutation (surya namasakara), down dog stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands for longer, more supple muscles in the back of the body.
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Downward-facing dog strengthens the legs and back for toned calves and strong shoulders. The pose also stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands for longer, more supple muscles in the back of the body. It also stimulates circulation around the shoulder blades.
Although down dog is a fundamental and relatively “easy” pose, it’s actually very active. The pose (which can feel quite strenuous in the shoulders and calves) energizes the body and mind, especially as part of a sun salutation. It also improves breathing through regular practice.