How do YOU Execute “Down Dog”?
Regular (and non-regular!) yogis, how do you enjoy this pose – Adhomukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog) – or not (as the case often seems to be!). If you love it, let me know, if not, tell me why!!
One of the first things I want to do when I’ve been sitting at a desk or in a car for a while is throw myself into this pose. I love that I can feel my whole spine lengthening. It releases my shoulders, my neck and helps me feel more relaxed…but yet, some people seem to REALLY dislike it so I would love to know how it feels for you and what is going on..
I see a few habitual things from time to time and so I’ll pop a few tips in here, but do take a look at these images carefully.
– In the first photo on the sand, my dog is doing the same pose – she is a dog after all – but she is stretching her back, she has no interest in stretching her “hamstrings” in this position. Getting attached to having straight legs when the shoulders and spine are super stiff, not only changes the centre of gravity, but it could affect the nerves in the lower back. For most people, straight legs means too much body weight at the front of the body. for a pose to feel comfortable, we need to distribute our weight evenly. Most people’s legs are far stronger than their arms and shoulders!
– Photo number 2 – if you have sore wrists, try Dolphin pose instead. A great release for the shoulders and builds upper body strength. Push away from the floor – don’t sink!
– Image number 3 – Another common issue in tons of yoga poses is flaring the ribs and sticking the bum out. Not only does this make it much harder to breathe properly – which can instil a sense of panic and a loss of physical power, but it can create pressure on the entire spine. It may also lead to niggles in the shoulders because when ribs are just dangling forward, often the scapula will be “winged” out. Notice in this image my tailbone is in neutral but it’s like the pivot point on a see-saw. I am distributing my weight evenly between my hands and my feet. I’m not sinking into the ground, I’m pushing away from the floor to resist gravity. My bum bones are aligned with my heels and my armpits are pushing down but my pubic bone and belly button are lifting towards my chin. If I cannot see my navel in this pose because my ribs are in the way, it really does cease to feel delicious!!
– Image number 4 – This is the same pose really. Try not to collapse in it – we prefer the dynamic rather than the yin version. Create resistance in much the same way as described above but keep your knees on the floor to make it feel less intense. This is a great restorative pose or softer way to practise all the elements of the down dog without the weight-bearing aspect. ❤️🕉️🙏