Ibiza yoga: How to do downward facing dog

Ibiza Yoga, Downward Facing Dog

Photography by Barbara Di Giacinto

Ibiza yoga instructor Susie Howell of Ibiza Retreats continues her series of ‘how-to’ yoga posture explanations.

POSE: ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA (downward facing dog)

MEANING: Downward facing dog! The downward dog is probably a posture that even the non yogi-est yogis have heard of and can be found in most yoga classes.

BENEFITS: There are so many benefits to the humble dog, here is a mere taster!

–      Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and tension
–       Energises the whole body
–       Stretches the shoulders, spine, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands
–       Strengthens the arms and legs
–       Improves digestion
–       Relieves headache, insomnia, back pain and fatigue
–       Therapeutic for high blood pressure, asthma, flat feet, sciatica, sinusitis

HOW TO DO IT:

  • Now we’ll try a floor based pose. Begin on your mat on your hands and knees. Set your knees directly below your hips and your hands forward of your shoulders – you can sit back on your heels and reach your hands as far as you can to find your optimum hand position here.
  • Curl your toes under and spread your fingers out on the ground to help you feel stable and grounded through your arms.
  • On an exhalation raise your hips towards the sky, pushing the floor away with your hands with an aim to straighten your spine.
  • Initially, keep your knees bent until your sitting bones are as high towards the sky as possible.
  • Try and connect the whole surface area of your palms to the floor – after practice, you almost feel that the floor is rebounding and supporting you! Take care that your weight is evenly distributed between your hands and feet.
  • Hold this pose or move on to begin to open the backs of your knees to straighten your legs, with your heels continuing to descend to the floor, while your hips reach upward.
  • Hold for one to three minutes or longer of you can. End the position, by bending your knees into child’s pose and relax…

HELPFUL HINT: Stay with it! Downward dog is a physically demanding pose. Our backs might feel stiff, our heels are nowhere near the floor and our arms hurt, but yet there is a certain sense of calm when you let go… faintly ridiculous, but oh so powerful!

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