Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

I will readily admit that my Down Dog is a hot mess. Nine times out of ten I am in a Down Dog at the end of a Vinyasa sequence and I fully dump in to my shoulders and take the saddest, shallowest breaths trying to regain my composure in advance of the next series. So let’s discuss what it is supposed to look like:

Begin on all fours with hands shoulder distance apart and knees hip distance apart.
Make sure hips are over knees and shoulders are over wrists.
Walk hands a few inches in front of shoulders.
Curl toes under, lift your hips and straighten your legs (some teachers will tell you to keep a slight bend in the knees).
Push in to the palms of your hands, evenly across all ten fingers.
Draw energy in to the lower body, elevating the pelvis.
Keep arms straight, rotating upper arms inwards broadening your upper back.
Pull shoulders away from ears.
Draw the front of your ribcage in, pressing your legs back.
Extend your heels drawing them towards the floor.
Do not hyper extend your knees.

Got all that?

I get in to Down Dog like this:

Reverse Warrior is over, pinwheel your arms. What does that mean? I know what to do with my back arm but is my front arm just going on the ground? OK, both legs back, Chaturanga, don’t just collapse on the floor. Up dog, that’s nice, down dog – breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

This is why a home practice is good. You can take the time to really get in to the proper alignment and scan your body from finger tips to toes making sure everything is in place. But better than that is taking a basics class – I have been practicing for years now and always have something new to learn about the simplest poses – and always will. In both the Basics class and Yogi Day Camp I took recently at Yoga Vida, I was able to refine the poses we cycle through in every Vinyasa class going through Sun Salutations. While my poses weren’t perfect in my next Flow class, they were certainly better.

These may not make for the most exciting pictures for Instagram (follow me @notsefatia) but they are very important for your practice and should be revisited from time to time.

Namaste.

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