Downward facing dog can be an uncomfortable or intimidating pose for some. Here are some tips on how to make down dog feel right for you!
Getting Into the Pose: From table top (kneeling), ground through the palms of your hands and curl your toes under. Then, press up onto the balls of your feet allowing your heels to relax, bringing your body into an inverted “V” shape.
5 Things to Remember in Downward Facing Dog:
- “Starfish” Your Fingers: Spreading your fingers wide allows your weight to evenly distribute through the hand so that pressure is taken out of the wrist area. Be sure to press into the base of the fingers (back of the knuckles) and into the fleshy part of your palm (below your thumb) to alleviate wrist discomfort.
- Align the Spine: Find length through the spine by pulling the shoulder blades away from the ears and fully extending the elbows. Bringing the belly inward will also help to create a nice line from wrists to shoulders to hips.
- Lift the Hips: Proper alignment in downward dog has a lot to do with weight distribution. If you feel you are in a half down-dog/half plank, lift the hips toward the ceiling. This shifts your weight toward the lower half of the body. Feel your heels relax toward the mat and enjoy the stretch in the back of your legs from the hips to the heels.
- Soften through the Knees: Always avoid locking out the legs. Keeping a soft bend in the knees helps to maintain circulation throughout the legs. *TIP* If your hamstrings feel extra tight, maintaining straight legs in downward dog might feel impossible! Bend your knees as much as you need to ease the stretch your hamstrings while maintaining a straight spine.
- Ground through the Feet: In the same way you activate your hands, ground through your toes and the balls of your feet to create a solid base of support. Be sure to relax your calf muscles to allow the heels to reach toward the floor (your heels do not HAVE to touch in this pose!)
Hopefully these tips make downward dog pose a more comfortable and beneficial asana for you! Come out to a Row and Flow or Vinyasa Yoga class this week at the studio to try out YOUR new version of down dog this week!