Turn Up the Power in Downward Facing Dog

Turn Up the Power in Downward Facing Dog

Perhaps the most iconic of all asana, downward facing dog is often the first pose people think of in association with yoga. It is common to move through downward facing dog multiple times throughout the practice. Downward facing dog acts as an inversion, arm balance, and forward fold all in one! Fine-tune this  powerful pose with these head to toe alignment cues.

1. Activate the hands:  

  •  Spread the finger tips wide, pressing into the thumb and forefinger to relieve pressure off the wrists
  •  Another wrist relieving tip: point either the index or middle finger  forward
  •  Press the fingertips into the ground  so that you can almost lift up the wrists, again relieving pressure
  •  Feel as if the thumbs were spiraling  forward and away from each other  to internally rotate the arms

2. Harness the core:

  •  Use an exhale to engage the abdominals, feeling as if a corset was wrapping around the torso
  •  Keep the ribs knit together even as you inhale  so that the ribs don’t splay out
  •  Tip: to really find your core, shift forward into high plank, and then back to down dog holding onto the deep core engagement required in plank

3. Lengthen the spine:

  •  To create the inverted “V” shape that is downward facing dog, there can be  no rounding in the back
  •  Press the floor away with the hands to lift the hips high
  •  Don’t worry about getting the heels down, even keep the knees bent if it helps lengthen the spine
  •  Tip: lift up the heels, bend the knees and press the belly toward the thighs –    restraighten the legs and descend the heels, keeping the chest reaching to the thighs

4. Give power to the legs:  

  •  Feel as if the heels were moving away from each other without actually moving them
  •  The heels should disappear behind the toes, so the inner thighs spin back
  •  Lift up through the knee caps to engage the quads
  •  Tip: the more you engage the legs, the less burden for the upper body

Downward facing dog is far from easy when practiced right, and can bring power to your practice. Engage the whole body the next time you get into the pose and see the transformation