Essential Yoga Pose: Downward Facing Dog

The other day I had a voice mail from my sister. I tapped the ‘play’ button on my phone and heard a loud laughing voice booming over the speaker. She yelled, “Help! I’m stuck in a permanent Down Dog. I don’t know what to do!” Immediately I burst into a big smile. I loved her joke, it was funny. I don’t know if that has ever happened, but I’m sure it would have been all over the news. Her joke has kept me thinking about how downward facing dog is one of the basic essential yoga poses. I know many people don’t know how to get into it or how good it feels. Let’s get to it!

Downward Facing Dog – adho (downward) mukha (face) svana (dog) is one of the essential yoga poses. It’s good if you’ve had a hard day. It’s like medicine for those that love pills. If you like immediate results, it’s literally a quick fix for a serious case of the blues or a stress filled day. It’s a simple pose that anyone can do, with or without a mat. It delivers total body strengthening and relaxation. It allows your body to lengthen out; stretching your arms, spine, and legs. I know you’re excited about trying it out, so  here’s how to get into it. This is a step by step guide to getting into down dog (and enjoying it).

How to Get into Downward Facing Dog

  1. Get onto your hands and knees
  2. Hands shoulder width distance apart slightly in front of your shoulders
  3. Spread your fingers and palms flat on the floor
  4. Knees hip width distance apart, tuck your toes under
  5. Lift your sit bones up away from your pelvis creating an upside down “V” with your body, heels press down
  6. Lift the pit of the belly in and up towards your spine
  7. Drop your head and look in between your feet
  8. Take several deep breaths through your nose (notice: you feel better, right?)
  9. Smile! Repeat!

(If you down dog doesn’t look this < one on the left, its okay. She’s just showing off. You can tell by the look in her eye. She does this pose at least twice a day, every day, for a life time. Everyone must start somewhere, don’t let her get to you. She was born a natural.)


Child’s Pose Explained: The breakdown and benefits

Child’s pose (Balasana) is often the first pose most yoga practitioners learned. If you are a beginner or a seasoned yogi it’s important for you have this pose in your practice. It immediately eliminates stress as soon as your forehead is on the mat. You’ll likely experience a relaxing feeling, it allows for centering, and it can also be a resting pose. It creates opening in the body; especially the top of the thighs, back, and arms. I love this pose because you don’t even have to have a yoga mat for it. You can do it at home, the office, or even outside. If you already have a yoga mat, great! If you don’t you can use  a towel until you get one. Don’t let anything hold you back from practicing yoga. Even if you don’t ‘pose’ perfectly you can still feel immediately a sense of relaxation and peace.

How to Get into Child’s Pose

1. Get on your hands and knees

2. Hands shoulder width underneath your shoulders, palms flat

3. Take your knees out to the outer edges of the mat, big toes together

4. Sit your tailbone back towards your heels

5. Stretch your arms forward

6. Place your palms flat on the mat

7. Forehead on the mat (Viola’! You’re in it!)

8. Take three deep breaths through your nose

9. Enjoy this time just to take a break

10. Yes, you can come back into Child’s Pose any time you like