The downward facing dog is one of the most basic and popular yoga poses, and even if you aren't a yogi, you probably have heard of this one. It is a relatively simple posture that could be one of the first poses you learn in a yoga class.
Like many yoga poses, even though it seems basic, down dog has many uses in a yoga class. It is used frequently as a transitional movement as you go from one posture to another. Down dog is commonly used for a resting pose that stretches your legs, hips and lower back.
Because this standing pose has you lowering your head below your heart, it is also classified as an inversion pose. These types of poses can promote extra energy and open most of the muscle joints throughout the body.
For someone that likes to run, this pose also provides a number of benefits from improving flexibility...helping the body cool down from a long run.
Downward Dog Pose
Begin on your hands and knees with your hands shoulder width apart. Make sure to have your hands firmly pressed into the ground to avoid any wrist strain.
Slowly lift your knees and straighten your legs so that your pose ends up looking like an upside down V. Press your heels flat on the ground and have your pose supported equally between your upper and lower body.
If your hamstrings are tight you can start with bent knees. Hold this pose for one minute and return to your starting position.
Taylor Demonstrating the Downward Facing Dog Pose
If you are using the downward dog pose as a form of rest between more difficult poses, try and focus on the stretching element of this exercise to get the maximum benefits it offers each time you are in the pose.
For extra resistance, lift your left leg as high as you can and extend your right arm behind you. Repeat it on your other side.
Other Benefits of the Downward Facing Dog
Improved Breathing. Yoga teaches you to use proper breathing techniques and how they effectively connect with your yoga movements. Using the right breathing can slow your heart rate and conserve oxygen.
Heart Health. Inversion poses can slow your resting pulse and reverse issues like an abnormal heartbeat. This can create a calming of the nervous system.
Stress and Anxiety Relief. This particular pose is particularly effective for promoting relaxation, tension relief, and restfulness.
Less Back Pain. These poses take some pressure off spine disks and can strengthen the muscles of the core and lower back.
Toned Midsection. Just maintaining your balance with an inversion pose is a core tightening exercise.
Improved Range of Motion. Poses like Downward Facing Dog can move your body through a liberal wide range of motion. Lengthening and stretching your muscles will increase mobility and reduce a chance of injury in other physical activities.
I will continue to share ideas about diet and exercise that have helped me along the way. If you have any questions I can help you with, or if you have any ideas you want to share, feel free to contact me or visit our Q&A forum.