1. Health Benefits
Its major benefits lie in opening of hips (pelvis) and strengthening upper body. The pose like Down dog, is highly effective in strengthening ankles, toes and knees while stretching the shoulders, back and calves. It lengthens the muscles, thus, increasing the range of motion and flexibility. It is also have been found very useful for women with menstrual problems and people with constant complain of indigestion.
2. Getting in the pose
What you need: Room with fresh air (if you’re doing it inside, otherwise do it in open area), and you.
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Initial Position: Down dog position
Drishti or Gaze: While performing this pose, concentrate your gaze in between your toes.
- While you get into the starting position, inhale deep and prepare you mind and body to push your hips towards the ceiling.
- Gently lift your hips upwards, unbending the knees and balancing weight on palms and sole. Slowly exhale as you do that.
- Try to keep your head held in a position and don’t let it hand between your arms.
- Hold the position for 15-30 seconds as a beginner. Later you must hold it even longer, say a minute or more. Breathe in once.
- Gently exhale and revert to the starting position. Do it twice in a practice along with other poses.
If you feel exerted, rest in Child’s pose.
4. Other variations
- Iyengar yoga: Here, the heels are supported by tiny bolsters initially to make one get used to the pose. In extreme cases, it also performed being bent over a chair.
- Sports Variation: Downward Dog Split with open hips is also another variation, where in after raising your one leg, you tilt it towards a side.
- Aerial Yoga: This pose is performed here while suspended from a hammock.
- To further strengthen your lower body, one can use resistance bands while trying to attempt downward dog split.
5. Preparatory Poses
- Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
- Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
6. Beginner’s Tip
Anti-gravity Dog: Try doing it first by lying on your back, and raising one leg up in the air straight and perpendicular to floor, or you can first master the preparatory poses and then move on to it.
You can also choose to do the Iyengar variation of this pose and later get into the full pose without the usage of any kind of props.
7. Advanced Poses
- Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskara)
- Scorpion Pose
- Challenge yourself by doing this pose balancing only on one hand.
8. Important Notes
- This is a Vinyasa yoga pose and hence, movements must be synchronized with the breath. That way, you strengthen your internal as well as external system simultaneously.
- People with carpel tunnel syndrome should not consider this pose.
- Pregnant women and those with issues of high blood pressure are strictly advised against down ward dog or any kind of inverted yoga poses.
- Though this pose is used as a warm up pose for the advanced versions, it would be helpful if you shook your body a bit for 5 minutes before getting into this pose. Warm up first!
- If your hands or wrists hurt due to friction from the mat, place a soft towel to act as cushion.