• Amberlyn How

Downward Facing Dog is Easy like ABCD

"Exhale and push yourself into downward dog..." sounds familiar and perhaps a must-have yoga pose in every yoga session, no matter what style of yoga you are practicing. We call it downward dog, sometimes, still the same meaning. What makes it even worse is that yoga teacher always says," take few more breaths and rest in downward dog," Students might feel like want to punch someone in the face straightaway I think.

Through teaching, I have been experiencing and seeing students that are struggling most of the times when come to downward dog. It looks like a simple pose visually as it is just like an inverted V. When you lay down your palms and straighten your legs up, pushing your hips high, you feel your entire body starts to shake. You may even feel your hamstrings are screaming and wrists are yelling at you, just feeling wanted to stop it.

Before coming to the question of how to downward facing dog, let's check and see below whether you are on the list or you actually could simply just strike it out.

1. Feeling wrist pain while holding the pose or wrist will get tired after holding for few breaths.

2. My heels could not go down, and I feel no way to straighten my legs.

3. I could feel my shoulders tensed up everytime I do downward dog.

4. My arms could not hold for long as I feel sore.

5. I do not know what is the best distance between my palms and my feet.

6. I just could not keep my hips high.

Above are the feedbacks I got from students as well as sometimes I could see from them and I myself did it by mistakes due to losing my focus.

Let's talk about what do you need to know in downward dog. It is a great pose that involves the entire body in stretching, muscles activation and engagement as well as stability.

To make it simple, downward dog for me is to grip the mat strongly from your palms inner out, extend the arms fully by pushing the spine into the body with drawing in your belly when you exhale, so that you could push the hips high. For the legs, whether or not heels reaching to the mat does not matter, straightening the legs with the imagination of the push is from the heels all the way up to the hips. It is clear that hips are like the midpoint for downward dog, as if the energy from one side flows from the fingertips all the way to hips while another side of energy flows from the heels up to the hips and keeping the hips as the peak.

It sounds pretty simple. However, it requires all your body muscles ready and prepared to go for the full downward dog. A simple pose yet energizing and challenging to most of the people. We shall see the options as I always believe, yoga is easy like A-B-C-D. Once you know how to control your breaths, you will go further when your body allows you to do so.

Downward Facing Dog


In my video, I came into downward facing dog from standing posture > Standing Backbend > Standing Forward Bend > Legs Back to Downward Dog.

Start with child pose with arms lengthening to t