Downward Dog

Benefits

  • Stretches the ankles, calves, hamstrings, back, chest and shoulders. 
  • Strengthens the feet, legs, hips, glutes, back, shoulders, arms, wrists and hands.

Therapeutic

  • Can help to alleviate lower back, upper back and shoulder pain.

Skill Level

  • Intermediate

Category

  • Hamstring Stretch
  • Total Body Strength

Yoga 15 Series

Instructions

  • From all fours, walk your hands forward a few inches.
  • Tuck your toes and lift your hips up, keeping your knees bent. Spread your fingers wide and press your palms evenly into the mat—index fingers point straight ahead. 
  • Try to straighten your elbows and allow your head to hang naturally between your arms.
  • Check that both knees point straight ahead and do not fall in towards each other. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart. 
  • The aim of this pose is to keep your spine straight, so you can bend your knees as much as you need to, to prevent rounding the lower back.
  • When you’re ready, gently press your heels back towards the mat. 
  • Hold the pose for 5 deep breaths, in and out through your nose.
  • Take a deep breath in. Exhale, lower back down to all fours.

Variation: Downward Dog Split

Hip Opener: Downward Dog Split
Downward Dog Split

This variation is a great hip opener. It also challenges your balance and builds core strength. 

  • From Downward Dog, step your feet together. 
  • Inhale, sweep your left leg up to the sky. Exhale, relax into the pose. 
  • You can bend your supporting leg as much as you need to. 
  • To deepen the intensity of the pose, bend your left knee and let your foot drop back behind you. If you can, press your right heel into the mat. 
  • Stay here for 5 deep breaths, feeling the opening in your left hip. 
  • To come out of the pose, take a deep breath in. Exhale, bring your left foot down to the mat for the other side.

Contraindications

  • Avoid this pose if you have a foot, wrist or shoulder injury.