Downward Facing dog is such a foundational yoga pose and it is used frequently in yoga classes of all styles. It is often used as a transitional pose to get you from one pose to the next, but this pose on it’s own is loaded with all sorts of benefits. It is important to do the pose correctly as if it’s done incorrectly, it can actually cause upper back and shoulder pain. A good way to check is to take a picture of yourself in the pose or do it in front of a mirror to ensure you have proper alignment.
There are several ways to get into downward facing dog, but my favorite is by beginning in Child’s Pose with you arms stretched out in front of you and your hands in line with your shoulders. See detailed instructions below:
Begin in child’s pose with your arms stretched out in front of you and your hands in line with your shoulders, palms pressing into the mat.
Keeping your hands where they are, press deeply into the mat and then send your hips up and back, straightening the legs. You want your body to look like an upside down letter V. The intention is to move the heels toward the mat, but they don’t have to get there. If you force the heels to the mat, you run the risk of over extending the muscles in the knees and hamstrings. To prevent that add a slight micro-bend to the knees to protect those muscles.
Reach your chest towards your thighs and maintain a long, straight spine.
Ensure your hands and feet are hip width apart. Extend your heels down towards the mat.
Relax your neck and look towards your thighs or naval.
Hold the pose as long as you can, working towards maintaining it for 1 minute.
Tones the abdominals
Builds bone density
Helps energize and wake you up
Eliminates stiffness and back pain
Strengthens the entire upper body, including the wrists and hands
Stretches and strengthens the hamstrings, calves and Achille’s tendon
Stimulates the nervous system, improving focus and concentration
Whoa, that is a long list of benefits from one pose! With that, I’m ending the post and going to practice Downward Facing Dog right now!