Downward Facing Dog: January Yoga Pose of the Month

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Strengthens arms, core and quadriceps; opens shoulders and chest while lengthening hamstrings
(great pose for the entire body)

Downward Facing Dog Pose (Sanskrit:  Adho Mukha Svanasana)   down-dog

  • Come onto floor on hands and knees. Place knees directly below hips and hands slightly forward of shoulders.  Spread palms, middle fingers parallel and curl toes under.  Inhale and on exhale, lift knees away from floor.  Keep knees bent with heels reaching towards the floor.  Remember, your hamstrings may be tight so give yourself permission to bend the knees as much as you need.  Press heel of hands into mat and lengthen tailbone.  Lift sitting bones toward ceiling.
  • For the next few breaths, begin to refine the pose - starting with your hands. If your thumb and index fingers are off the ground, you're putting too much weight in your outer hands. Think of creating a perfect palm print on the mat.  Spread your fingers, reach through your arms and press down with both hands. Make sure you don't have a deep bend in the wrists.  If you do press your chest back towards the thighs and make sure you haven't forgotten to bend the knees.
  • Now, lengthen your arms without locking your elbows, internally rotating and hugging the arms into the body. This will protect your shoulders. If you have tight shoulders, you can widen your hand stance.  Feel your armpit area lengthen and your chest open.
  • Last but not least, release the tension in your neck; let your head hang naturally between your arms. After three to five breaths, exhale and bring your knees to the floor. Rest in Child's Pose.  Remember, each time you move into Down Dog, find something different.  As your body warms, you find more within the pose.

Namaste - The light within me honors the grace and wisdom within you.

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About Author

Celeste Cooper-Peel, ND, MA, MCHES, CWHC, E-RYT

Wellness Manager

Celeste has been in the science, health and wellness field over twenty-five years. She began as a research chemist with a concentration in genetics and nutritional biochemistry. After working in the medical field, she saw the need to follow a path of proactive wellness and prevention. After receiving her Masters in Health Education, she ventured into the mind/body world receiving training in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Yoga. Shortly after, she received the 2003 Wellness in the Workplace Award for a large health system in the state of Virginia. In 2004, Celeste joined SAS Institute, Inc. and continues to be passionate in her position overseeing Wellness. She believes curiosity and collaboration bring insight and new ideas which bring out the best in everyone from team members to those who are making healthy lifestyle changes. Believing that the body knows how to heal if given the proper tools, Celeste earned certifications in Aromatherapy and Essential Oils, Classical Chinese Medicine and Homeopathic & Naturopathic Medicine. She earned her Doctor of Naturopathy degree in 2020. Celeste is a published author, wife and mother and practices what she preaches and teaches. She is a nationally recognized Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) and has advanced certificates in Integrative and Functional Nutrition, Genetics and Genomics. She is an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) with the National Yoga Alliance, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Instructor, Certified Wellness and Health Coach (CWHC) and Certified Yoga Therapist (CYT). Follow @ccooperpeel on Twitter and Instagram.

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