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How to Do the Downward Facing Dog Pose

Ever watch a dog stretch? Then you already have a good idea of what this pose looks like—and how handy it can be for digging up bones.

Instructions

  • Step 1: Kneel on mat Kneel down on the mat on your hands and knees. Spread your fingers and align your wrists parallel to the front edge of the mat.
  • TIP: It's easier to align your hands properly if you visualize a straight line passing from the crease at the base of one wrist to the crease of the other.
  • Step 2: Lift hips up & back Curl your toes under and lift your hips up and back, straightening your legs and bringing yourself into an upside-down, V-shaped position. There should be a 90-degree angle between your legs and your torso, and your arms should extend to the ground at the same angle as your spine.
  • TIP: If your hamstrings are less flexible, you may need to bend your knees to lift your hips up and back. If your shoulders are less flexible, you may not be able to extend the arms fully. Only go as far as what your body will allow.
  • Step 3: Keep head aligned Keep your head aligned between your arms so you're looking at your thighs—don't let it hang down or try to raise it up.
  • Step 4: Deepen pose To deepen the pose, raise your heels up slightly, lengthen your spine as you press your chest a little closer to your thighs, and then lower your heels to the mat.
  • TIP: If you want some extra stretching for your calf muscles, simply bend one leg at a time so you're bearing more weight on the opposite leg, and then switch. Alternate a few times.
  • Step 5: Breathe Breathe deeply and evenly, focusing on expanding your chest on the inhale, and scooping the belly in on the exhale.
  • Step 6: Hold pose Hold the pose for 5 to 10 breaths and come out of it when you are ready.
  • Step 7: Release pose Release the pose by lowering your knees back to the mat. Good dog.
  • FACT: A dog's musculature is similar to a human's, but—unlike a human's—its upper body muscles bear half the weight of its entire body.

You Will Need

  • Comfortable clothing suitable for stretching and moving
  • A calm place where you won't be distracted or disturbed
  • A yoga mat or folded blanket

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