Downward Facing Dog is on the most used asanas in yoga. It's great for opening the ribs, stretching the hamstrings and building upper body strength. But with yoga classes moving so quickly, how can you be sure you're in proper alignment?
Most students focus on getting their heels down to the mat in Down Dog but I think we need to look upstream for successful alignment. In a recent training about a the shoulder, my teacher Tiffany Cruikshank of Yoga Medicine says that if you move into Plank right after Downward Facing Dog, your shoulders should be directly over your wrists. Try it out and see what you notice:
Come into Downward Facing Dog like you normally would.
Take a deep breath and then Exhale forward into plank.
Look at your shoulders and see if they are in front of your wrists. Quickly notice the pressure it creates in the wrists and upper body then come down onto the floor. (You don't want to be in this position too long. It could lead to injury.)
Take a rest. Stretch out the shoulders and wrists.
This time start from Plank and place the wrists directly under the shoulders.
As you Inhale, press the hips up and back into Downward Facing Dog.
Notice the difference in the pressure of the wrists and down the backs of the legs. See if you can notice a change along the sides of the body as well.
When we shorten the space on our mat between our hands and our feet in Down Dog, we aren't lengthening the body enough to get that fabulous stretch we need from head to toe.
Join us for Beginners Yoga every Saturday at 11am to slow down your practice and learn more about alignment of the poses.