Many exercises that we do are inspired by Yoga including downward dog. If you have never tried Yoga you may be surprised how many movements will be familiar to you. All our Yoga classes at PWFC are appropriate for beginners and experienced participants. Check them out here
Benefits of Practicing Downward Dog Everyday
· Opens the Backs of the Legs – Walking, running, moving around, standing – most daily routines bring tension to the backs of the legs. This is the reason for chronically overly tight hamstrings and calf muscles. Downward Facing Dog the perfect posture for opening the backs of the legs as gravity helps, and it is very easy to keep the spine in a beneficial position in this stretch.
· Elongates the Spine – The traction from planting your feet and then pushing the hands strongly into the mat is one of the best spinal elongation tools the yoga asana practice has to offer. Using gravity will reverse the usual downward pressure on the spine, helping gently re-align the vertebra in a natural, easy way.
· Brings Awareness to Breathing – Because this pose is not a very complicated one, and thus there is less chance of injury, it allows some time to tune into the breath.
· Strengthens and Opens the Chest – Downward Dog is one of the best postures for the chest muscles. Most are overly tight in chest, but not necessarily strong. This comes due to the ‘hunched’ position. Downward Facing Dog will help re-establish some opening in the chest muscles, as well as help cultivate much-needed strength in this area of the body. This new opening and strength will help reduce pain and pressure in the shoulders and upper back, and it will help develop the strength needed to practice more advanced asana like inversions and arm balances.
· Strengthens the Arms – This pose is effect for increasing upper body strength in general, and arm strength in particular when practicing the posture properly. Bringing attention to pressing the hands into the mat, and rolling the biceps away from the ears, muscular engagement throughout whole arm will occur.
Begin in Table Position – On all fours, hands and knees, spread the palms wide, and stack the shoulders over wrists.
· Knees hip distance apart, curl the toes under.
· Walk the palms just out in front of the shoulders. Be sure the palms are spread flat, no air under palms. Stand with feet slightly wider than hips, toes pointed forward and slightly outward.
· Raise the Body Up and Back into Posture – Ground down into the palms, raise the knees off the mat while shifting the stomach toward the thighs.
· Lift the hips up high, as the legs straighten. Keep toes pointing forward. Begin by maintaining a slight bend in the knees and over time as the body becomes more flexible slowly straightening the legs, reaching heels toward the mat. Do not lock the legs; keep a slight bend to prevent injury.
· Hold and Breath – Continue to reach the heels toward the mat, raise the hips high. To help create space, it is an option to “walk the dog” or “paddle out the feet”.
Bending one knee at a time while straightening the other leg, reach the heel toward the mat.
· Switch back and forth between left and right leg.
· Hold down dog for 5-10 or more breaths, release onto the knees to come out of the posture. Repeat many times throughout yoga practice or 2-3 times during the day stretch and elongate the entire body.
Lifting one leg straight up into the air
· Down Dog Twist