Breaking Down Downward Facing Dog Pose

Rachel Scott
Instructor Rachel Scott
Average: 5 (10 votes)
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Join Rachel in this tutorial as she breaks down and illuminates the key actions needed to set up and practice downward facing dog safely and effectively. 

To continue learning, check out our 250-Hour Yoga Teacher Training Program, specifically Rachel's 5-hour course, Principles of Teaching.


monkeymath 3 months ago

After yet another class where I felt my downward dog just wasn't quite right, I thought "there should be a dedicated video explaining this pose", and found this *entire section* of DYWM detailing individual poses. Which prompts me to ask "how dumb am I?" 'cause I didn't find it earlier and "how awesome is this site?" 'cause, well, it is.

And then it's even a video by the wonderful Rachel Scott. Fantastic!
The pose still doesn't feel quite how I pictured it, especially around the lower back, but now I have a much better idea of what to focus on. Thanks so much!

GlassBeach 6 months ago

The lengthening of spine changes this pose for me. Otherwise my chest drops down. The lengthening has me tuck in the bottom rib a bit and wow, new pose. It’s clicked. As well as the sit bones energetically to my heels slightly and the entire pelvis reaches away from ribs, ribs away from hands.
I love the lifting of palm and with my curled in hands, it’s always a challenge to get the weight under thumb and forefinger. What helps me is I place my palms down and then slide them out a tiny bit, like dragging the skin of my hand from my pinky to my thumb. That transfers the weight to thumb and forefinger. Then I’ll go up my arm and wrap my outer arms out and down. Much gratitude. I want to see more free vids from you, please!

PianoWire 10 months ago

Thank you for pointing out that downward facing dog isn't a resting pose, at least for beginners. (I find plank much, much easier to hold.)

Your pointers on hand positioning were very helpful for my tight shoulders.

My hamstrings prevent me from straightening my legs even halfway in this pose. The "straightest" I can get is a 60-degree bend in my knees. (Staff pose, inverted L, and the like are also well beyond my range of motion.) Any suggestions or adaptations for downward facing dog?

David Procyshyn 10 months ago

No, just do downward dog as you are, while applying enough effort to create the stretch and encouraging those poor, tight hamstrings to release by relaxing them. It can be hard, but it's so worth it to spend time releasing them!

kateconn 11 months ago

Really helpful pointers! Thanks! This pose is often challenging for me because my arm strength is not great. I'll keep these pointers in mind.