adho mukha svanasana variations

Downward Facing Dog: 3 Ways to Improve It!

Do you struggle with the down dog pose? Are your heals not touching the floor yet? Do you need to adapt the pose because of an injury?

Here are 3 creative ways to do so!

These adho mukha svanasana variations come from Iyengar yoga and they use yoga props in order to adapt the pose to your body needs. Yoga props are the best tool to progress into the final pose with your body fully aligned, thereby reducing the risk of injuries. These accessories teach your body the directions it needs to take. Your body can feel the benefits of the final pose (even if you are not there yet).

Let's now take a closer look at these variations:

1- Downward Facing Dog with Yoga Chair


Place your yoga chair on a yoga mat so that it is firmly anchored.

Allow some distance between you and the chair (a little more that your arms length). 

Feet hips distance apart, with the interior part of your feet parallel, reach the chair seat with your hands.


In this variation of adho mukha svanasana, you require less effort and flexibility. Experience pressing your heals onto the floor and grab the seat side edges to rotate your shoulder blades outwards (and flatten your upper back)

Focus on pushing the chair and extend the full length of your back all the way from your hands to the tip of your buttocks.

The chair teaches you 2 important directions: rotation of the shoulder blades + extension of the upper body towards the ceiling.

downward facing dog with yoga chair

2- Down Facing Dog with Yoga Rope

The use of yoga ropes, also called yoga kurunta, is vastly used in Iyengar yoga. As it is not always easy to install a rope at home, you can use a door strap device as a replacement (this is what I currently use),


Feet hips distance apart, place the yoga rope / strap in the crease of your groins (you might want to place a blanket on the rope if you experience pain).

Bend forward ensuring you are aligned with the anchor point of the device.

Reach the floor with your hands and move them forward, shoulders distance apart, fingers spread on the floor (the index fingers should be parallel to the mat sides and there should be a distance between each fingers).

Now move your feet backwards. A great alternative is to place your heals on the wall / door pressing down against the plith or wall (8cm / 3.15in).


This is a highly restorative version of adho mukha svanasana. It releases tensions and quietens the mind (place a yoga brick of bolster under your forehead to maximise relaxation).

The rope teaches you to bend from the groins crease and to lift the tip of your buttocks up. It removes weight from the arms and shoulders. 

downward facing dog with yoga rope

3- Adho Mukha Svanasana with Bolster

Last but not least, this is another restorative form of the downward dog pose. The yoga bolster can ne replaced with a block or yoga blankets rolled into a bolster.


Get into your normal adho mukha and then place your forehead onto the yoga bolster. You might need to add extra height if your head does not reach down (blankets ofr instance). Your neck and head should feel totally relaxed in this position. Maintain active arms, back and legs and relax the head, face and eyes.


Provides relaxation and removes tiredness. This variation is the one Iyengan women practitionners use during menstruation.

downward facing dog pose with yoga bolster


Looking to buy yoga props? Here is our yoga accessories online shop.

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