Asana of the Day: Downward Facing Dog

Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana).

The quintessential pose.

It took me f o r e v e r to finally feel comfortable in downward dog. My wrist and upper body strength was poor when I first started, so going into downward dog was certainly not a rest pose.

However, when you can get your body used to and attuned to all the nuances of the pose, it becomes a truly enjoyable mild inversion with lots of benefits.

Including: spinal decompression, shoulder opening, and hamstring stretching.

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Bare Bones Pose:

  1. Find a tabletop position on your hands and knees with your abs engaged.
  2. Spread your fingers pressing into the first knuckle to relieve pressure off wrists and tuck your toes.
  3. Lift your tailbone to the ceiling as knees come off the floor keeping a slight bend to protect tight hamstrings.
  4. Arms should be shoulder width apart and feet hip width apart.
  5. Spread your upper back wide dropping your shoulders away from your ears and press your chest into your thighs for a shoulder stretch.
  6. Take some of the bend out of your knees by bending one knee at a time till your hamstrings feel looser.
  7. Hold for 5 breaths or 15 seconds.

Offbeat Modifications:

1.Wall dog: Don’t have the time to roll out your mat? Just grab a wall. Stand about torso distance away from the wall. Place your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart and melt your chest to the floor. Delicious.


2. Downward pushups: Want strong shoulders? Start with your core engaged and feet in a wide-legged dog stance. Fingers should be slightly pointed toward each other. Bend your elbows out to the sides so your head lowers a couple inches above the floor. Pushup to starting position. Try 8-12 reps.






3. Twisted dog:
Place the right hand in the center of the mat and the left hand somewhere down your right leg. Look under the right shoulder. Hold for 5 breaths or 15 seconds. Switch!






4. Pike Walk-ups
: From downward, pull your navel to your spine to engage your core. Tip toe your feet as close to your hands as possible taking baby steps. Core should be rock solid with most of the weight in your hands. Try to maintain the pike position for 5 breaths or 15 seconds and walk back to dog. Good for handstand prep.


5. Wide-legged dog: Step your feet on the outsides of your mat. Let your chest melt to the floor for another shoulder opener. Place books or blocks under your hands for an added stretch.





What are your favorite ways to offbeat downward dog?

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