Down dog pose is one of the most universal poses in yoga practice. The pose is used in so many yoga classes because it effectively works all the body's major muscle groups.
- Start on all fours, with your hands directly underneath your shoulders and your knees directly underneath your hips.
- Gently roll your shoulders and sway your hips back and forth to loosen and warm up your body.
- If you have weak wrists, roll the first few inches of the top of your mat back toward you and rest your palms on the fold to elevate them.
- Breathe fully to lengthen the spine.
- Pull your navel to your spine, exhale, and flip your toes over so that the bottoms of the toes connect with your mat.
- Inhale and straighten your legs, but don't lock them. Let your head and neck fall between your arms.
- Check to make sure you're still properly aligned. You should feel as though energy is traveling upward, peaking at the tailbone, and continuing back down your body.
- Breathe fully and continue to lengthen your spine.
- Rest, if necessary, by returning to all fours.
- For an extra challenge, return to the pose, inhale, and raise one leg off the ground.
- Experiment with raising the leg and squaring or opening the hips.
- Inhale and come back to the down dog pose. Use the looseness you've created in your body to deepen the pose.
- Exhale, hinge forward, and come back down to your knees.
- Rest in modified child's pose.
Down dog pose stretches your whole body in just a few minutes, which makes it a useful yoga pose for anyone who's short on time but still wants to start the day with an allover stretch.