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.