Downward-Facing Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana as its also known is the staple diet of most yoga classes but are you doing it wrong?
When you start yoga the Adho Mukha Svanasana or (Down Dog is much easier to say) is probably one of the first inverted poses you will try. When you practice this Pose for the first time, you will feel it the next day, ..it is working hard on your shoulders, arms and wrists however the Pose is very approachable for most people as long as safe from wrists or shoulders injuries…
As always with yoga poses first impressions can be deceptive and while you may think you've nailed it first go, you really can always work deeper in the Pose, working simultaneously the various angles of the Pose, lines of alignment pulling in opposite direction, breath, engagement of abdominal locks, and gaze..
It might be worth observing what the yoga teacher does and then practice in front of the mirror or ask someone to film you on camera….you will see best the work that is left to do! But thats Yoga isn't it? Very easy to start and a lifetime to master and isn't that the real journey anyway?
Well back to Down Dog…
Here are a few Downward Facing Dog tips that may help you :-
1. Spread your palms and fingers wide.
Make sure you have a solid base from the start, align your hands shoulder width apart so that your arms are parallel and spread your fingers wide enough for a strong grip on the mat – no kung -fu hands!
2. Find your perfect Stance
First of all you may not feel what the correct distance may be between hands and feet, over time you will get an idea of how far they should be. Ask to be corrected in class as the stance must be wide enough for you to be able to work your legs properly.
3. Feet Hip width apart
Try the Downward Dog Pose with various distance between the feet. You will gain stability and strength with your feet hip width apart, don't put them together
Once you get into the Downward Dog Pose its very easy to get caught up and not to breathe properly whilst holding the Pose. Breathe slowly in and out through your nose to calm the chatter of your mind for 5 slow cycles of breaths. If you feel challenged, then remember to practice more often as this Pose is really a resting Pose in a Dynamic Yoga practice.
5. Work your Limbs to achieve Spine Length
Feel the alignment and work of your limbs, start with your hands, forearms, arms and shoulders, broaden your shoulderblades then work your feet, shins, quads, and back of legs. Play with the Pelvis to find Neutral and enjoy the length in the Spine. Allow your head and neck to relatively relax and rest your gaze towards your navel for a traditional practice.
Downward Facing Dog is a magical pose, my favourite Pose of all and such a great overall Strength and Stamina builder. If you only do one pose a day then this is the one…
Please share your practice with us: what do YOU think about the Pose and how do you find it helps you, as well as what are your challenges with it?
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