Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Downward Dog is probably the first pose that comes to mind when most people think about yoga. It is great for the entire body. This pose can help to calm the mind and energize the body. This pose may even help to relieve menstrual symptoms.
[Before beginning any exercise program or making any health changes, please consult with your health care provider. As always, please be mindful and listen to your body.]
How to Practice Downward Dog Pose
To begin lets start in plank position, or the top of a pushup. Align your wrists under your shoulders, spreading your fingers wide. Place your legs so that they are extending straight out behind you about hip width apart.
Press your fingers into the mat, and relax your shoulders away from your ears. Be sure you are not collapsing in the space between your shoulder blades, by lifting up through the upper back.
Find length in your neck and look down straight down at the floor.
Lift your navel toward your spine to engage your core.
Feel the line you are creating from the crown of your head all the way through to your heels.
Lift your hips up to the sky. Relax your heart towards your thighs, and hug your lower ribs in to your body.
Be sure to relax your head and neck.
Practice opening through your shoulders by slightly rotating your shoulders outward. Also, practice an outward rotation through the hips, by slightly rotating the big toe of each foot in toward each other.
Please do not worry about your heels touching the floor. Allow your knees to be bent.
Also, feel free to move around in the posture in ways that feel good to your body. Downward Dog does not have to be a static pose. You can move your heels up and down one at a time or sway your hips from side to side. Move in ways that feel amazing to your body.
You may also like to lift one leg up off the mat, keeping your hips in alignment, for Three-Legged Dog Pose (Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana). Then lower your leg, and give it a try on the other side.
Find a connection with your breath, and breathe here for as long as it feels good. When you are ready to release, find your next exhale and lower your knees down to the earth.
A great downward dog pose variation to try next is puppy pose.
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