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The perfect Downward Dog

The perfect Downward Dog
April 26, 2017 1 comment

How to Perfect Your Downward Dog

Downward Facing Dog is one of the most practiced yoga poses, if not the most. Especially if you take flow or vinyasa style classes, Downward Dog is like home base. How are you feeling about your Downward Dog right now? Does it make you feel like a dog with its tail between its legs because it is so intimidating? Let’s take a look at some ways to improve your Downward Dog so you’ll step off your mat feeling peppy instead of punished.

Establish Your Foundation

This part is essential! If a house is a built on a poor foundation, the entire structure will eventually become damaged and crumble. Finding a good tabletop position is the first step. When you place weight on your hands, think of using them like your feet. Your hands, arms, and shoulders provide a lot of support for your Downward Dog.

Foundation Alignment Tips:

  • Press your thumbs and knuckles into the floor
  • Internally rotate the forearm
  • Externally rotate the upper arm
  • Plug the shoulders into the back so they do not drop toward the ears

Lengthen Your Spine

A long spine equals an open mind. Just kidding. But really, when you are able to lengthen your spine and maintain that length in various yoga postures, your spine and the rest of your body will thank you. The spine is the central channel of your body, so when it is in optimum form, all the nerves and brain signals can fire properly. But what if your back has a curve to it in your Down Dog?

You are not alone!

The trick here is to bend your knees. By bending your knees, you can allow the spine to lengthen first and THEN worry about the legs later (well really, you shouldn’t be worrying about anything!). Bending the knees allows you to pivot deeper into the hip joint and point the tailbone upward. Often the tailbone is pulled downward due to tight hamstrings, which then affects the hips and eventually the entire back. It’s like a chain reaction. Start with one small change and over time you will notice a big difference.

Don’t Worry About the Heels

Many people have their eyes (or minds) on what they think is the prize here: getting the heels all the way down to the floor. While this is a great goal to have, it is not absolutely necessary! Once the strong foundation and long spine are achieved, then you can start thinking more about the legs.

The feet should always be in a parallel position, in line with the hips. If they are not, it will torque the shape of your body and be more difficult to get the heels down.

Then, actively draw the front of the thighs upward toward the hips. You can do this whether or not your knees are bent.

Remember, what matters the most is that you get the most out of each position by managing what YOU need for YOUR body, where ever you may be in your yoga journey! Let us know how it goes!

lisa February 3, 2018 at 11:50 AM
very nice post. Thank you for this post.