Downward Dog

SKILL LEVEL
  • Intermediate
CATEGORY
BENEFITS
  • Stretches the ankles, calves, hamstrings, back, chest and shoulders.
  • Strengthens the feet, legs, hips, glutes, back, shoulders, arms, wrists and hands.
  • Can help to alleviate lower back, upper back and shoulder pain.
INSTRUCTIONS
  • From all fours, walk your hands forward.
  • Tuck your toes and lift your hips up, keeping your knees bent—drop your chest back towards your thighs
  • Spread your fingers wide and press your palms evenly into the mat—index fingers point straight ahead.
  • Try to straighten your elbows and allow your head to hang naturally between your arms. Rotate your arms outwards to feel a broadening across your upper back. Lift the weight up out of your wrists by drawing your shoulders up and back.
  • Check that both knees point straight ahead and do not fall in towards each other. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart—ankles point straight back.
  • The aim of this pose is to stretch your spine, so you can bend your knees as much as you need to, to prevent rounding the lower back.
  • When you’re ready, gently press your heels back towards the mat.
  • Hold the pose for 5 deep breaths, in and out through your nose.
  • Take a deep breath in. Exhale, lower back down to all fours.
MODIFICATION
  • If you have tight shoulders, place your hands slightly wider than your shoulders and angle your hands slightly outward.
VARIATION: Downward Dog Split

Downward Dog Split

This variation is a great hip opener. It also challenges your balance and builds core strength.

  • From Downward Dog, step your feet together.
  • Inhale, sweep your left leg up to the sky. Exhale, relax into the pose.
  • You can bend your supporting leg as much as you need to.
  • To deepen the intensity of the pose, bend your left knee and let your foot drop back behind you. If you can, press your right heel into the mat.
  • Stay here for 5 deep breaths, feeling the opening in your left hip.
  • To come out of the pose, take a deep breath in. Exhale, bring your left foot down to the mat for the other side.
CONTRAINDICATIONS
  • Avoid this pose if you have a wrist, shoulder or foot injury.

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