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, MA, MCHES, E-RYT, CWHC, CYT

Wellness Manager

Celeste has been in the science, health and wellness field over twenty years. As a chemist, she conducted research which brought her into the mindset of proactive wellness and prevention. After receiving her Masters in Health Education from East Carolina University, 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 about all things wellness. She enjoys collaborating with team members, teaching, presenting and nurturing healthy lifestyle changes. She believes that every day is a learning opportunity and creates opportunities that reflect active learning, being curious and forward thinking. Celeste is a published author, the wife of a fun-loving husband, mother of a college freshman, "professional" front porch meditator and loves to play in the dirt . She is a nationally Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES), an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) with the National Yoga Alliance, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Instructor, Certified Wellness and Health Coach (CWHC), Certified Yin-Yang Yoga and Mindfulness Meditation Instructor and Certified Yoga Therapist (CYT). She has also received advanced certificates in Integrative and Functional Nutrition and additional trainings with The Institute for Functional Medicine. Follow @ccooperpeel on Twitter and Instagram.

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