Dreamy Down Dog
Written by Shiva Rea
How can you find comfort or joy in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)? If you struggle with Down Dog, be compassionate and patient with yourself; you are not the first person with tight hamstrings or weak arms. On the other hand, be diligent. Ultimately, Down Dog will start to feel so good that you will really empathize with the full-body joy that dogs display during their post-nap stretch.
The first thing about Down Dog is learning to ritualistically place your hands in alignment with your shoulders and hips. Typically, new students will have their arms too wide and their feet too close together. If your base is out of proportion, the pose becomes unstable, your joints stressed, and organs compressed. Come onto all fours. Place your knees right under your hips, making sure first that you have fully extended your spine. When you place your hands on your mat, shoulder-width apart, lightly spread your fingers, making sure your middle finger faces directly forward. Really study your hands, and without tensing them, connect all of the joints of your fingers and your inner and outer palm into the earth.
As you lift your pelvis to the ceiling and draw your hips back, look at your feet. They should be hip-distance apart, aligned with your pelvis. Beginners will often walk their feet towards their hands to prematurely bring their heels to the ground. Have patience, grasshopper. Your heels may or may not touch the ground, but you want to feel that you have room to continuously grow in this pose