Down Dog is one of those yoga poses that seem so simple yet its actually quite the opposite. When coming to your mat & into your first Down Dog, take a few moments, scan your body and make sure All Parts Are Go in this fundamental pose of your practice. After child's pose, Down Dog is actually meant to be a pose to come back to, check back in with your breath & allow your heart rate to slow when in a faster paced vinyasa class. After years of Down Dogging, the checklist below is how I check-in to my first Down Dog & each time I return to it.
This post was inspired by being in class a few weeks ago, looking back thru my legs and noticing a dude in the row behind me, shaking like a leaf, in down dog & just a couple minutes into the practice. My first thought?? I'm so strong...I can Down Dog all day! haha Second thought...Us girls are badasses -- we down dog, handstand & arm balance the boys right off the mat. :) Finally, I thought, I wonder what he could be doing differently to find comfort & ease in his Down Dog.
Down Dog Checklist:
- hands placed shoulders width apart or just slightly wider
- fingers spread wide, index fingers parallel, pressing into all parts of both hands evenly -- firmly pressing into the base of your thumb & index fingers as well as the fingertips, careful to not dump weight into your wrists
- unshrug shoulders/traps down & away from your ears -- pulling shoulder blades down your back & in towards your spine
- tailbone lengthening up towards the ceiling, while maintaining a slight tuck to engage lower abdominals and narrowing the front of your pelvis
- feet placed in line with your Sitz Bones, (or slightly wider if more comfortable) actively pressing heels down towards the mat - lengthening & stretching your achilles, calves & hamstrings
Side Note: its ok if your heels don't touch -- a lot of people get caught up in their heels touching the mat -- your efforting to touch by staying active in the pose, continuing to lightly press down & back.
A couple things your do NOT want to be feeling in your Down Dog:
- Pain and/or uncomfortable pressure in your shoulders, wrists, neck
- Pain in your low back
Hope you find this helpful next time your on your mat! xx