On the Mat Series: Downward-Facing Dog

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Hi readers!  Welcome to a new segment on the blog.  Here we are going to hop on our mats and do some asana breakdown.  An asana is the same thing as a posture or a pose.  Here we have one of the best-known postures in yoga, downward-facing dog (adho mukha svanasana in Sanskrit).  And yes, that's me modeling up there :)

Some key things to remember in down dog:

1.  It's not a resting pose.  We often transition here for a few breaths in a vinyasa practice, but down dog is active.  Push the floor away with your hands, lift your hips up and reach down with your heels the whole time.  If you need rest, definitely give yourself a child's pose!

2.  Heels don't have to touch the mat.  It's a direction so that the whole backs of your legs can stretch.

3.  Push the floor away with your hands.  Think of pushing into the spaces where each finger meets the palm.  This prevents the wrists from straining.

4.  Watch for hyperextension.  Be careful with elbows and knees that they aren't being jammed back.  If they feel a little tender, think of softly bending them and engaging the muscles around the joints.

5.  A good way to transition with down dog is to take five full breaths here.  If the pose is active, this will light up your body FAST!

Be well.