Downward-facing dog is one of the most widely recognized yoga poses in the world. It is a foundational pose that we often come back to throughout a practice, a lovely transition from floor to standing, and a great stretch for the posterior chain.
While there is certainly no right or wrong way to do downward-facing dog, there is a way to do this pose that pulls you into your center, lights up your core, and prevents you from sagging into the shoulder capsule. I made my first Instagram reel the other week to help you understand just how to do it! Check it out below.
In addition to my catchy reel, here are 3 things you can do right now (or the next time you're on your mat) to turn up your downward-facing dog:
Bend your knees! I don't know where this idea came from that your heels must touch the ground in down dog, but it's simply not true. Keep your knees slightly, or a lot, bent to give your hamstrings some slack, which will loosen up your low back as a result, and stop trying to reach your heels to the floor.
Let your head dangle. The neck always wants to get involved in every pose. It's our evolutionary threat detector, you can't blame it. But you can change it. Get out of the habit of lifting your head in down dog, trying to look up or around. Let your head hang between your arms and feel that beautiful release in the back of your neck! Your head and neck will thank you.
Shorten your stance. Just like there is no rule that your heels must touch the floor in down dog, there is no rule that says your feet must be 7 feet away from your hands in your down dog. When you have a super wide stance, you lose so much of that connection to your core. When you lose that, other structures in your body have to work twice as hard to stabilize since your core isn't doing the work it's supposed to be doing. Where does that compensation occur? Shoulders, neck, low back, pelvis, legs, feet, everywhere! So while it might feel like you're getting a good stretch in a really wide stance, try shortening your stance by bringing your hands and feet closer to each other and finding length in the back body. You will find that you feel more stable and that stepping forward from down dog isn't as difficult!
Try out these tips and let me know how it goes!