Downward Dog – Wake it up!

Downward Dog - wake it up!It is a great disservice to this pose when it’s called a ‘resting pose’. I tell my students that the only resting pose is Savasana!

Downward dog is such an instructive and foundational pose. In my 20 years of teaching, I have spent an uncountable number of hours doing and analyzing this pose with a wide range of very senior and talented teachers. It is not an easy pose nor is it for resting!

A common complaint is wrist pain. Many times it’s simply a matter of students learning to contract the muscles of forearms and upper arms while pressing firmly into ground with the palms of the hands. I describe this as ‘pressing down to lift up, using the arm muscles to pull the weight out of the wrists’ (more scientifically known as ground reaction force). This is not an action that comes with the notion of ‘a resting pose’!

It’s a good place to start building wrist, arm and upper body strength. Build it from the ground up – hands pressing, all muscles of the arms contracted, externally rotate the shoulders for a strong upper back set-up. The weight transfers from the upper body to the lower body via the hips but then the legs need to take over. I see many students that don’t use their legs enough. Strongly press the upper thighs, shin bones and heels back. Wake up this pose and it will pay you back!

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