Yoga Tips: Downward Facing Dog
Based on my Instagram polls it sounds like you guys want to know more about yoga poses - tips, breakdowns, modifications, etc.
So today we are covering one of the most iconic yoga poses, Downward Facing Dog.
The english name for the pose, in this case is a direct translation from the sanskrit name: Adho Mukha Svanasana.
- Adho meaning Down
- Mukha meaning Face
- Svana meaning Dog
- Asana meaning Pose
Although this pose looks and seems simple, there are a lot of complexities that are important to take into account. Especially in a pose that we do so often, form and comfort and confidence in the posture is key to a safe and successful practice.
To break it down, let's start with aligning the body parts.
- Essentially you want to be in an inverted V. To make sure you aren't taking your dog too long or too short, come into a plank pose and then press right back into it. From there I wiggle myself about 1 palm print back with my hands one small step forward with my feet.
- Once you are in position from there, take a light bend in your knees and spread your fingers wide so that your full palm & hand is pressing into the mat.
- Your hands should have a slight external rotation, like you are starting to open a pickle jar, and that rotation should extend up arm so that your inner elbows also face slightly out/forward, as opposed to inward
- Notice if your shoulders are scrunched up by your ears, now drop them down your back, lengthening out your neck.
- As far as your feet go, if your heels touch the ground great, if not that's also great. There is NO requirement here, although the general direction you're trying to work them is towards the floor.
- Internally rotate your inner thighs to the back of the room, for this you can even take a block between your legs and imagine your legs are a pez dispenser trying to shoot the block out behind you. Nice visual eh?
- Finally let your head be an extension of your spine, avoid looking far forward or dipping your chest too low to the ground. Notice below in the photo my ears are right between my arms, and my neck is extended in line with my spine (hey that rhymes!)
The important thing to remember with down dog is that this is ACTIVE rest. It shouldn't be easy like a childs pose but it shouldn't be so tough that your entire body is shaking. Find the balance. And do not forget to breathe!
Below are photos of shoulder stretches, quad stretches (lunges) half splits, balancing poes, extended side angle and the standing fold starting point, and of course full birds of paradise!