Placing both hands at one end of the mat, step both feet back towards the other end of the mat.
Spread your fingers wide and press your entire hand down into the mat, with a little extra pressure resting in the index finger and thumb pad.
Keep the shoulders engaged, pulling away from the ears, and spreading the shoulder blades wide. Let your neck relax and head hang low centered between your arms.
Allow your back to gently arch as you tilt your pelvis back so that your tail bone is pointing up towards the ceiling.
Keep your legs active by lifting the knee caps, and pulling your heels through the floor.
Energizes the body
Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands while strengthening the arms and legs
Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
Relieves menstrual discomfort when done with head supported
Helps prevent osteoporosis
Relieves headache, insomnia, stress, back pain, and fatigue
Therapeutic for high blood pressure, asthma, flat feet, sciatica, sinusitis
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Pregnancy be careful to only go as far as your belly will allow, do not try to fold more.
If you have low blood pressure do not hold this pose for extended periods of time, it may cause dizziness, or the feeling of lightheadedness.
Here are some common mistakes I see in many yogis:
1. Believing that pressing your torso up by sinking the shoulders towards the ground will be beneficial. Although it may feel beneficial when you are upside down, if you were to turn that right side up your shoulders would be super shrugged all the way to your ears, constricting your neck, straining, your shoulders, and over all just being very uncomfortable. When you are in Downward Dog, don’t thin about lifting your body up, simply think about pulling your shoulders away from the ears and towards the tail bone. This will make sure that your shoulders are going in the right direction, and are getting stronger and more prepared for other arm balances.
CORRECT: Shoulders are pressing away from the ears and INCORRECT:
shoulder blades are spread Shoulders are not pressing away from the ears
and shoulder blades are squeezed together
2. Not tilting the pelvis. Although this can make for a funny looking downward dog, it does not make for a fun adjustment. Trying to adjust some ones pelvis who has no idea how to move their pelvis is very hard to do without accidentally touching someone inappropriately. I am hoping that this visual cue will give you a good idea of what your downward dog should look like verses how it does. If you need help understanding how to move your pelvis, please see The Pelvic Clock
Pelvis is tucked under pointing at the back of the room CORRECT: Pelvis pointing up towards the sky
3. Let your head hang. There is no need for your head to be looking up the front of the room. Some instructors my cue you too look between your hands, and this is fine for when you are ready to start floating, but until then let your head hang low. There may be some instructors who will cue you to tuck your chin down to your chest. Again there is nothing wrong with this, just make sure that you have enough room to breath. Believe it or not down dog is a resting pose, which is one of the reasons you will see it a lot during vinyasa classes as hold during a strenuous flow, so if you want to tuck your chin to your chest make sure you know how to keep a steady breath while doing so.
Head is looking up
4. Shifting your weight forward. This is not a plank pose what so ever. So many times I see people shift their weight forward and end up doing a plank pose with a weird hip crease (as seen in the picture below). This is a super simple fix though, just use your upper body to press your self back, and take your hips up. In order to see you hands, you should have to tilt your head up and look forwards (not straight down).
Shoulders are almost directly over the wrists
5. Forcing your heels down. Just to clear this up first, your heels may not touch the ground due to your bones, so no amount of stretching will ever fix that. Do not hurt yourself trying desperately to get the heels to the ground. Another reason your heels may not touch the ground is do to ligament length, which although these can be stretched over extremely long periods of time, over stretching them can cause long term permanent damage. So if your heels are not on the floor, do not fear, your not doing things wrong. The important thing is that you are driving them towards the ground in order to stretch the back of your legs while simultaneously engaging the front of the leg.
Check out this video, up on my YouTube Channel now for those of you who don't want to read or like to watch videos, on these same mistakes for down dog and how to fix them.