Yoga is a holistic practice that strengthens the connection between the mind, body, and spirit. There are different yoga styles and asana -better known as poses- that any beginners can try. In this guide, let’s learn another beginner pose called the downward dog pose, some safety tips, and the fantastic benefits you can reap.
Beginner Pose: The Downward Dog
The downward dog pose or Adha Mukha Svanasana, sometimes tagged as the downward-facing dog or down dog, is one of the popular standing yoga poses where a practitioner stretches their whole body on all fours. This yoga asana is commonly present in Vinyasa or Ashtanga style as a transitional pose or a resting pose. Another cool pose to check out is the tree pose. If you love to learn about other cultures, then read about this really cool Hindu festival here.
This yoga pose stretches your overall which leads to multiple benefits:
It stretches the lower body. This position will help stretch your hamstrings muscles, calves, and ankles easily.
Another benefit is that it promotes the upper body. This pose helps in building strength in your shoulders and upper limbs. It also works your midsection to help develop better abdominal muscles.
This pose also encourages better posture. Since this pose opens up your chest and shoulders, it will align your vertebrae and straighten your spine, making up a better posture.
Downward dog pose exercises your foot and ankles. This pose stretches your major muscles and bones to the smaller muscles in your feet. Improving this part of your body can immensely help your balance and stability, which prevents injury as your practice goes deeper.
How to Do It
This pose is a powerful yogic pose that can help ease chronic pains trigged by tight hamstrings due to extended periods of sitting. Below is the step-by-step guide on how to do the downward dog pose:
Come down on all fours. Begin on the floor with your fingers width apart while your shoulders over your wrists. Make sure your shoulders are parallel with your index fingers, and your hips should be over or almost on your knees.
Raise your knees gently. Then, gather your toes against the ground. At this point, try to extend your legs and raise both knees in the ceiling. Your body should look like an inverted “V” shape.
Stretch and extend your spine all while pinning through the surface of the hands and balls of your feet. Draw your pelvis up into the air by your triceps in your top arms to help keep this position.
Some yoga instructor recommends pulling your shoulder blades down, while some prefer rotating the joints outwardly to help the body. After that, slowly bring your knees back to the ground. Hold this position, then release, but make sure you breathe properly.
This yoga pose will take time to practice. That said, below are some of the safety tips to help this practice safe and straightforward for beginner yogis.
Only make small movements. You don’t want to make a pose like getting on all fours. Smaller moves are more accessible for beginners.
Instead of coming down on all four at once, you can come down onto your forearms first and gently straighten your legs. Using yoga blocks as a prop for your hands will make your stretching safer.
If you find stretching your legs while keeping your back straight difficult, you can change your heel position for comfort.
Instead of pressing your heels flat on the ground, you can make them rise a little bit of the mat normally.
Whenever you feel comfortable deepening the stretch, you can begin pressing your heels flat onto the mat again.
Downward dog pose can be complex for the body if you have poor flexibility. No problem. You can try a forward bend version in front of a chair to leverage your arms and keep the body-wide “V” shape. Gradually bring your feet up until you feel the stretch.
Keep your knees extended. When you stretch your legs, it’s best to avoid overextending your knees because it can spark some strain on the joints, leading to injury. Straighten your legs as much as possible while keeping a minor bend in the knee to secure enough stability.
Stop tucking your tailbone. Make sure your back is straight for the whole duration of this pose. Draw your pelvis forward to help keep your spine straight to avoid back injuries.
Proper measures and techniques are essential to secure a safe and effective yoga practice. If you have an existing health condition or injuries, it’s best to consult your healthcare provider before practicing yoga. Yoga asanas, such as the downward dog, can be modified based on your needs.
Unroll your mat as you secure your safety and worthwhile yoga journey. Ensure your yoga instructor can deliver your goals, and remember not to forget to let them know about your health conditions for a better foundational practice that will shape and refine your overall well-being. Namaste.