Developing your home practice……. Downward facing Dog

Adho Mukha Svanasana, Downward facing dog aka Down Dog is a resting pose. No really, it is. I promise. It is also my very favorite pose. Yep, I even like it better than pigeon and that’s saying a lot. So it shouldnt surprise anyone,  that I would include it in our home sequence. And why not, it’s a staple pose, one I think almost anyone can do.

DD also reflects many aspects of my teachings, about foundation, opposition, stability and balance. The pose its self creates great strength and wonderful flexibility, it can challenge you, it can sooth you. It can help quiet your mind but also invigorate you for more challenging poses to come. And sometimes its the only inversion I do, most of the time its the only one I teach in a class. Its one of the few traditional poses that can done anywhere in your practice, it is a warm up pose, you can use it to create total body strength and flexibility and as I said to begin with, it can come in the middle of a vigorous flow practice as a resting phase.

Lets talk  foundation; come into your plank pose, Shoulders over your knuckles, long lines from the crown of your head to your heels, naval to spine; Begin to lift your hips, keep the knees soft. If your hamstrings are tight, go ahead and bend the knees. Remember basic foundation principles, Length in the spine before length in the hamstrings. Keep the ears between the elbows, dont drop your head. Some do’s and Dont’s…..


  • Breath, smile and lengthen your spine
  • Create space between the shoulders and the ears
  • Rotate the shoulders onto the upper back
  • Engage Uddiyana Bandha.


  • Worry about the heels reaching the floor
  • Drop your weight into your hands
  • Look down your shirt
  • Frown or grit your teeth or hold your breath.

Down dog requires some time to gain the strength in your torso and in your legs to take some of the pressure off your wrists, elbows and shoulders. So be patient with yourself and over time maybe you will learn to love Down Dog as much as I do.

Om Shanti




5 thoughts on “Developing your home practice……. Downward facing Dog

  1. Pingback: Developing your Home Practice……Cobra and Upward facing Dog, We’re in the home stretch now! « Cheryl's Yoga Shanti

    1. I assume you mean in Down Dog (and other inversion type poses)? Well first a little disclaimer here (honest question deserves honest answer); I do not have that problem, farrrr from it 🙂 so this is all third party info. But a really good bra helps, wait hear me out, when the girls are well supported they are less likely to ‘get in your face’ causing you to shift forward, and a good bra helps with your upper back posture too. Having said that, it might not be the girls at all, or at least not all their fault, most people who shift their body weight forward have a couple of different alignment issues to fix. Rule of thumb….in any pose, “get the length in your back before lengthening your hamstrings. So how about putting a nice little bend in the knees, seriously, don’t worry at all about the legs being straight or trying to get your heels to the ground, most women cant at first anyway (damn high heels). Just bend the knees in towards your belly not towards the floor, and reach your hips and sit bones up towards the ceiling (don’t force it though; it will over arch your back).
      Another alignment issue could be your hand placement. Try your hands wider apart, and ‘wrap’ the shoulders around the upper back, don’t pull them down or squeeze them together, just ‘wrap’. Yoga will over time strengthen your back so that carrying that larger load won’t be so difficult. Women with larger busts have a tough time with neck and back issues and strengthening helps. Core strength might also be part of your challenge, as you gain more core strength that will help you to carry the pose in the torso and not drop into the shoulders, elbows and wrists.
      Just don’t hold to the ridged ideas about how a pose should look or feel; play with the poses that challenge you, without losing the basic foundations and you can adjust any pose to better suit your body type.
      Yoga has a pretty big learning curve so let me know if this helps you with your curves 



      1. Thanks! I will have to give this all a try. I usually don’t wear a bra when I do yoga, so I’ll definitely give that a go. I will have to have my laptop beside my mat and play with this a bit…


  2. Pingback: Downward Facing Dog – A Borrowed Post « Living Yoga

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