Does your DOG need a CHECK-UP?
Just by looking at the photo you know I'm not talking about your pet dog, but rather one of the foundational poses of your Vinyāsa practice. But just like a pet dog, you should treat your yoga dog with as much tender loving care and give it plenty of attention!
You've heard your yoga teacher tell you that this posture is a resting pose, and if you are a beginner yogi you were probably thinking "what the what?". But I promise you that with correct repetitive practice of this very famous yoga posture, you will find that this posture can be very relaxing. In fact, I personally love the name of this posture because it feels like home and to me "home is where my dog (pug) is".
So what is Downward Facing Dog? Downward Facing Dog or in Sanskrit (Ahdoh, MOO-kuh shvan-AHS-uh-nuh) is a mild inversion that builds strength while stretching the entire body. It's named after the way dogs naturally stretch their bodies. Downward Dog is an essential component of Sun Salutations in Vinyāsa practice and is often done many times during a single yoga class.
So let's just cut right to the chase (no pun intended :)) and if you feel like your Down Dog is a little ruff, I'm sure that in no time it will be very fetching. Ok I'm done with the puns now, I swear.
The Correct Way to Down Dog:
- Begin on your hands and knees. Align your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. The fold of your wrists should be parallel with the top edge of your mat. Point your middle fingers directly to the top edge of your mat.
- Stretch your elbows and relax your upper back.
- Spread your fingers wide and press firmly through your palms and knuckles. Distribute your weight evenly across your hands.
- Exhale as you tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor. Reach your pelvis up toward the ceiling, then draw your sit bones toward the wall behind you. Gently begin to straighten your legs. Bring your body into the shape of an inverted "v". Imagine your hips and thighs being pulled backwards from the top of your thighs.
- Press the floor away from you as you lift through your pelvis. As you lengthen your spine, lift your sit bones up toward the ceiling. Now press down equally through your heels and the palms of your hands.
- Firm the outer muscles of your arms and press your index fingers into the floor. Lift from the inner muscles of your arms to the top of both shoulders. Draw your shoulder blades into your upper back ribs and toward your tailbone. Broaden across your collarbones.
- Rotate your arms externally so your elbow creases face your thumbs.
- Draw your chest toward your thighs as you continue to press the mat away from you, lengthening and decompressing your spine.
- Engage your quadriceps. Rotate your thighs inward as you continue to lift your sit bones high. Sink your heels toward the floor.
- Align your ears with your upper arms. Relax your head, but do not let it dangle. Gaze between your legs or toward your navel.
- Hold for several breaths.
- To release, exhale as you gently bend your knees and come back to your hands and knees.
Practicing Downward Dog with warm, strengthen, and stretch the entire body. You can use it as a transitional pose, or as a full-body stretch on it's own. Try a few round during the day to increase blood flow and energy while calming your mind. You may find the benefits extend to all areas of you life, even off the mat!
Namaste, Bendy Babes