Posture Spotlight: Downward Facing Dog

Ahhhh… Downward Facing Dog – my favourite! Beginners often hate it and look dismayed when they are required to do it again and again in class. But if you stick with it, ole Down Dog can become a pose that reconnects, energises, tones and stretches the whole body and prevents and relieves stress and fatigue.

Mountain or Downward Facing Dog PoseDownward Facing Dog (or Good Mountain Pose) is an inverted posture (head lower than heart) and is my go-to when I find myself procrastinating or lacking motivation through out the day. It is especially useful if you are feeling tired and lethargic! I tend to stay in Downward Facing Dog for 1-3 minutes before coming down into Childs Pose  to check back in with how I am feeling.

I am well aware that Downward Facing Dog is not everyones favourite and usually this is because it’s not comfortable – especially for beginners. But you know what they say…practice makes perfect, or in this case more comfortable!

To help you out and hopefully get you digging Downward Facing Dog I’ve written out instructions to get into the pose and the cues that I use for myself and in class. Have a little play, adjusting yourself and checking in with how it feels…I promise you it gets better and better the more you practice it.

Downward Facing Dog

Begin in Childs Pose. Come to your hands and knees, knees hip width apart, hips in line with the knees and shoulders in line with the wrists, inside of elbows are facing inwards and fingers are spread wide apart. Inhale, tuck your toes under and raise your knees up off the mat, your buttocks pointing up towards the ceiling. Exhale, press the palms into the mat and the heels down towards the floor. Gently walk the feet up and down and move the hips to ease into this pose. Breathe into the navel area. Stay here for 30 seconds, building up to 1 minute, then 3 minutes with practice.

Helpful Cues

  • Breathe
  • Press the palms into the mat.
  • Press the thumb and index finger into the mat
  • Breathe…
  • Gently look in between the legs or at the navel
  • When you press down through your palms feel the heart tracking towards the feet
  • Don’t pinch the shoulders, roll open and press down. Rotate away from the ears
  • Lift the ribs
  • Breathe!
  • Avoid rounding the lower back
  • Pull your tail upwards
  • Breathe!
  • Have movement in the hips as you get used to the pose, gently sway from side to side bending the knees
  • Lift the knee caps
  • Breathe…
  • Push the backs of the thighs towards the back of the room and inwardly rotate
  • Bend the knees (generously) if you need to
  • The heels are tracking towards the floor but DO NOT need to be resting on the floor (get over this and your Down Dog will be forever changed!)
  • Peddle the feet up and down, come up onto the balls of the feet and lower back back
  • Breathe, breathe, breathe!
  • Come back into Childs Pose for 8 breathes

Take the cues that you feel help and leave the rest. If you want to know what your current version of Downward Facing Dog should feel like, ask next time you are visiting and we’ll work it out together.

Enjoy, and let us know how your Down Dog is feeling after having a play! We’ll be posting this on facebook so come tell us your experience.