Downward Facing Dog

This stretch may look a little weird at first, but once you get past the awkwardness, the benefits become worth it. Downward facing dog improves flexibility in calves, hamstrings and shoulders, relieves pain in the lower back and elongates your cervical spine, which relieves tension in the body and head.

How to do it: Come onto your hands and knees with hands directly below your shoulders and knees directly below your hips. Spread your fingers wide and tuck your toes under. Inhale and lift your knees off the floor, pressing your hips up toward the ceiling. Draw your heels down to the floor or keep a slight bend in your knees. Press your hands firmly into the mat and draw your shoulder blades down. Keep the head between the arms (don’t let it hang). Take deep breaths the entire time.

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One Comment

  1. Please find another image for downward facing dog. The model is making a pretty standard error that folks new to yoga do–sacrificing a long spine from neck through tailbone (which makes for a long line from hands to tailbone) in order to have straight legs and feet flat on the mat. Your instructions are correct in that they point out that there might be a slight bend to the knees, but they don’t explain that this should be done if needed to keep a log spine, and that while the heels *reach* for the mat, they may never get there.

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