Downward facing dog is a foundational yoga pose that challenges beginners and advanced practitioners alike.
If you dream of doing handstands one day, having a strong downward facing dog is your first step to getting there. Don’t be discouraged if you find this pose very difficult to hold in the beginning. With consistent practice, you will get stronger and it will get easier.
DOWNWARD-FACING DOG BENEFITS
Downward-facing dog pose has the following benefits:
- builds strength in the shoulders and arms
- stretches the spine and backs of the legs
- gets blood circulating as a gentle inversion
HOW TO DO DOWNWARD-FACING DOG
1.To measure the correct distance between your hands and feet, start in a plank pose.
2.Press firmly through your hands and feet and lift your hips towards the ceiling.
3. Keep pressing until you have a flat back. Your body should resemble an upside V.
4. Think about externally rotating through the biceps and shoulders while internally rotating through your forearms to engage the arms fully.
5. Reach your heels towards the mat while stretching through the backs of the legs.
MODIFICATIONS FOR BEGINNERS
- Your fingers should be comfortably spread, but not strained apart.
- Some studios teach downward-facing dog with generously bent knees and lifted heels to release tension in the lower back. Others prefer straightened legs with heels reaching towards the floor. Try both versions to see which you prefer.
- Place a rolled blanket beneath your heels to offer extra support through the legs.
- Place yoga blocks on their lowest setting beneath your hands for lift through the arms and shoulders.