Going to your first yoga class can be nerve racking and even more so if you are the north side of flexible like me! One of the first poses you’ll encounter is downward dog. Often you will hear the instructor say things like: “press down through your hands, spin your elbows and shoulders away from your ears, pull your hips up, back and down, tighten your leg muscles and let your neck and head relax.” That’s a lot of information for one pose! Below is a simplified version that will make it easier to follow and process the instructions. The only difference between downward dog and this practice pose is the stance. Instead of having your feet hip width apart they will be a in a wide stance. This will keep the weight out of your arms and shoulders and make it easier to concentrate on the instructions. It is a great way to get the correct alignment.
Begin in a wide stance and your toes slightly turned in.
Next, place your hands on the mat and slowly walk them forward.
Place your hands shoulder width apart, arms and back should be straight.
This should feel good and there should not be a lot of pressure on your shoulders. Now you can begin to get the feeling of what it is like to press through your hands and rotate your shoulders away from your ears. Also practice tightening the muscles in your legs and pulling your hips upwards while pressing down with your heals. When you’ve had enough, walk your hands back up to your feet and slowly roll up to standing.
Et voila, that is the beginning to a successful downward dog. Practice this several times before going to class. The instructions for a regular downward dog will make a lot more sense, I promise!