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Yoga Essential: Downward Facing Dog

Posted by Brett
I am Glenda's husband. Together we own VitaZen and The Centre at VitaZen.
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on Saturday, 28 June 2014 in Uncategorized

Downward Facing Dog

Sanskrit name: Adho Mukha Svanasana
Nick name: “Down Dog” 

Every yoga pose offers something good to our bodies. Downward Dog has long been an integral part of Hatha yoga sequencing because it offers so many benefits within one pose, giving us full body strength and flexibility all in one movement.  There are many modifications and variations to this pose, making it accessible to everyone while continuously challenging at the same time. Take a few minutes to review the instructions below and practice your own down dog at home! 

1.     Bring yourself to your hands and knees, hands underneath your shoulders and shoulder width apart. Bring your knees hip width apart, and check that your knees are directly under your hips. This is a Table Top pose.
2.     Move your hands one hand-length further away from your body.
3.     Curl your toes under while taking a deep inhale.
4.     Upon exhalation, lift your knees and push your hips away from body, allowing your arms to fully extend. Keep your head in line with your spine so your gaze is downward.
5.     Inhale as you allow your spine to extend and expand.
6.     As you exhale, think about pushing your tailbone towards the sky while letting your heels relax down towards your mat. Your knees can be slightly bent if necessary, especially when warming up.
7.     Allow your head and neck to relax fully. You should be able to see your legs.
8.    Continue 4-5 deep slow breaths here and become aware of your body in this pose. While you are breathing, explore the pose:
a.     Spread your fingertips and press each finger into the mat to support your wrists.
b.     Ensure you are not locking your elbows, but instead rotate the upper arms away from the head and use your muscles to feel the full extension of your arms.
c.      Broaden the shoulders and draw the shoulder blades back and down, away from your ears.
d.     Gently pull your lower belly in towards your spine.
e.     Practice feeling this pose with slightly bent knees, and notice how it changes as your begin to straighten your legs.
f.      Engage your inner thighs, pushing them away from body.
   g.     Take a break by bringing your knees and elbows down to the mat and lift into down dog when you    are ready to explore the pose again. 


-       If you experience wrist pain, begin the pose with your forearms on the mat, elbows underneath your shoulders. Use your forearms for support as you lift into down dog, instead of your hands.

-       Place a block between your legs to build strength and practice alignment.

-       If you experience great difficulty in this pose, try a standing version where you begin facing a wall, bend at the hips, and press the hands into the wall.  

As you can see, there is a lot happening in this wonderful posture! You may want to choose 2-3 cues at a time until you are able to integrate all of them into your pose.  Practicing Downward Facing Dog strengthens the arms, wrists, shoulders, and torso. It stretches the palms, chest, back, hamstrings, calves, and feet. Down dogs helps with lower back pain, digestion, and focus. It is said to integrate and balance the entire body, and works to balance all seven chakras, or energy centers, within us.
{ Mary Buchanan }


The Centre at VitaZen is Smith Mountain Lake’s premiere yoga studio. Offering classes 6 days per week year round and Sundays through the summer. We have 5 200 hour certified instructors. Join us and find out why our yogis proudly say “My Yoga Studio”.

The Centre at VitaZen
12787 Booker T Washington Hwy
Suite 103
Hardy, VA 24101 / 540-721-9365

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I am Glenda's husband. Together we own VitaZen and The Centre at VitaZen.


Brett Thursday, 03 July 2014

Well said Mary! Thanks:)

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