Down Dog is just one of those poses, ya know?  Many people have a love/hate relationship with it.  I fell pretty strongly on the hate side for, oh, let’s say the first five years of my practice.

Over time, though, I grew to love the pose (most of the time) because I discovered many different variations of it that I can choose from depending on what I want in my practice on any given day.  Here are a few for you to play with!

Puppy Dog

1. Begin facing a wall, approximately arm’s distance away.

2. Press your hands into the wall at the height of your shoulders.

3. Begin walking your feet back, allowing your spine to lengthen.  Bend your knees considerably here.

4. Once you’ve walked back to a point where your spine is roughly parallel to the floor, begin working your legs toward straight.

5. This pose is a fabulous option because it allows you to really work on alignment without coming out as often as is sometimes needed with Down Dog because in Puppy your legs are doing the vast amount of the support.

Down Dog

Child’s Pose

1. Come into Child’s Pose.

2. Maintaining this extended arm position, lift your hips up, keeping your shins on the ground; you are now in a modified Table Top pose with arms extended.

3. From here, tuck your toes under so that your toes are “standing” on the mat.

4. Keeping your knees bent, begin to lift your hips up.  If you’re into knowing what shape you’re making, it’s kind of like an “M” with one side considerably bigger than the other (or, an “M” drawn by an enthusiastic three-year-old).

Down Dog

5. As you feel comfortable, begin working your legs toward straight, allowing the heels to drop toward the floor.  Pressing your thighs back as you are able allows you to hold more of the pose in your legs, which is important for arm safety and stamina.  This will also give you more lengthening through your spine.

6. Another option here is to practice with the heels on the wall.  In this variation, your heels come onto a wall (generally just above the baseboard, or to that level if your wall does not have a baseboard).  The wall can give your legs a little more support and, again, help you not hang the whole pose on your shoulders and arms.

Down Dog with Heels at Wall

7. To come out, gently lower the knees back to the ground.  Shift your butt back toward your heels in Child’s Pose.  When you’re ready, come back onto hands and knees or to seated/standing.

What are some of your favorite Down Dog variations?

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Tweet: Here are a couple variations of Downward Dog for you to try from @CurvyYoga