Possibly the most well- known posture by yogis and non-yogis alike, Downward Facing Dog tends to summon smirks or knowing nods. Essentially representing a dog stretching out, it is an energising restorative posture that strengthens and stretches one´s limbs. It is particularly good at opening the hamstrings, calves, arches and hands, relieves stiffness in the upper back region (great for shoulder blades!) and strengthening the spine. Downward Dog is said to relieve the symptoms of menopause, headaches, menstrual discomfort (with head supported) and improves the digestive process. Pretty magical eh?
One of the most common issues of this posture is the complaint of too much pressure on the upper body. Really important to try to redistribute the weight in the hands and wrists by spanning the hands wide, also working to melt the heels towards the mat (synchronise with the breath for an additional hip opening wiggle!). There´s a lot to love with this posture, particularly it´s welcome advent during vinyasa sets! Remember to keep breathing as breath can be long, steady and slow here (head lower than heart so calming soothing breath) and most importantly, have fun playing with it!
Here´s a bit of guidance!
1. Start on your hands and knees. Look at your hands and make them wide like stars, spreading the fingertips! Imagine you have suckers on your fingertips!
2. On your exhale press your hands strongly into the ground, as if you´re pushing the floor away from you. Keeping your arms straight, lift the knees slowly into the air. Reach your bum up and back (don´t be shy!). Keep the knees bent and heels off the floor for now as you lengthen the sides of your body.
3. Lift your bum higher whilst straightening your legs and melting the heels down towards the mat – but don´t worry if your heels don´t touch the floor, it´s also ok to keep your knees bent if that gives you more length through your upper body. Try “walking the dog”, bringing one heel down towards the floor and lifting the other and vice versa. This will help open up the backs of your legs and your outer hips too. Keep breathing!
4. Relax your shoulders away from your ears and let your neck be free. Try moving your head around a bit to release any held tension in your neck. Feel the length through your spine. Smile!