Downward Facing Dog

Downward Facing Dog is a popular and widely-practiced yoga pose.  It has a long list of benefits, including: soothing headaches, easing anxiety and mild depression, clearing the sinuses, and energizing the mind and body.  Plus, in this pose, you’ll gain new perspective from an upside-down vantage point!  It’s the perfect way to mentally reset in the middle of the day.

Start on the ground, on all fours.  Knees should be directly under your hips and hands should be shoulder width apart, but slightly in front of the shoulders.  Spread your fingers widely and press through the pad and base of each finger to anchor your hands.  Curl your toes under.  Keeping your knees bent, slowly start to lift the knees off of the floor and press your floating hips back over your heels.  Gradually begin to straighten the legs any amount that is comfortable for you, but hyper-extend or lock-out your knees.  You should end up in a shape that resembles an upside-down letter “V.”

Breathe calmly through your nose.  Continue to hold the pose and refine your alignment for 10 breaths, but be sure to come back down to hands and knees if you feel any pain or discomfort.  

From your inverted letter “V” shape, scan your body with your mind and notice anywhere you feel sensation - that can be a stretch, or a release, or heightened awareness.  Engage every muscle in your body, so that you fully support yourself with your own strength.  You may notice this helps you feel lighter in the pose.  With your muscles squeezing, start to reach your hips up and back even more, then balance that by hugging in your low belly.  Take the tops of your thighs back and heels more toward the floor, without locking out your knees - a small bend in the knees will really help here!  Let your ears line-up with your upper arms, so your neck is long and relaxed.  For your final few breaths, keep everything you’ve created in the pose to this point, and actively press your hands and feet back down into the floor.  

When you come out of the pose, rest in a comfortable seated position for a few breaths.