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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Easing Your Downward Facing Dog

by Carrie Boyko, CEB

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Ya gotta love the name of this pose--Downward Facing Dog. For most of that love dogs, it often reminds us of the play bow our pups often offer us or a playmate when they wish to engage in a romp. Here's a little insight into the name; when you practice Downward Dog you'll soon find that you're more frisky and energetic also. The inversion (turning your head upside down) brings blood to your brain, awakening your mind and bringing energy along with it. Let's learn some tips to ease the way down.

Lots of beginners at yoga find that reaching the floor in any position is nearly impossible. Surprisingly, the screaming you are feeling from your back, glutes and hamstrings, is often something that just needs a little coaxing. Here are some tips to help you get there with daily practice:

  • Daily doesn't have to mean EVERY single day, but the more often you practice the more quickly you'll find your hands on the floor.
  • Start by spreading your feet a little wider than the video instruction calls for--at least shoulder width. You can move them in gradually as you become more comfortable with Downward Dog.
  • Rather than assuming the floor is a must, start by using the back of a chair. Keep your back straight as you pivot at the hips to reach it. Enjoy the position, and move on only when you're comfortable with continuing to stretch downward. Slight movements downward should come naturally as you exhale. Stay here if this is challenging you.
  • Using the ladder of a chair like mine, you can work your way slowly down to the seat. This may happen in one practice session, or it may never happen. Listen to your muscles and heed their advice.
  • When and if you finally reach the floor, your legs may give a final holler. Ease this tightness by raising onto your toes. Lower your heels to the ground ever so slowly, and only when your legs are ready.
  • Finally, you can bring your feet together and lower you heels when you're ready for the advanced version--bringing your hands closer to your feet in a very tall
  • To encourage yourself to enjoy this journey and keep you on the mat practicing longer, don't forget to invite your dog to join in by bringing treats to the corner of the mat and calling their names. Their presence will not only be enjoyable, but you'll find their adorable faces will give you hope to reach greater stretches as each day of practice commences. Let the bonding begin!
You'll no doubt notice that Tanner and Oliver are enjoying their participation--albeit mostly as companions--in my #doga practice. That's okay. I enjoy their presence and their encouraging yips as I move and flow through my workout. I hope you will reach this point too; let me know when you do.


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If you're new to Doga or Yoga, please be sure to do these three things: (1) Get your doctor's permission to start a yoga workout, (2) Check with your vet to make sure your dog is able to participate in simple Doga exercises safely, and (3) visit our introductory post where I've outlined a few tips that will help your experience go more smoothly and enjoyable. Keep in mind that you can always stop if a pose is uncomfortable, returning to a relaxing pose.


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