How to do the Perfect Alignment Downward Facing Dog



Almost all yogis are familiar with downward facing dog. It’s a very popular pose and has sort of become the “go-to” pose in the world of yoga. There are many styles of yoga that can fit most people’s desires and are able to accommodate most people’s goals, but it does leave a lot of room for variation. When trying to learn how to perfect your downward facing dog, it can be hard if you are jumping from teacher to teacher since they will probably give you slightly different instructions. In today’s article, you will learn how to do the perfect downward facing dog in the alignment-based/Iyengar style.

Getting into Downward Facing Dog

You can get into downward facing dog in multiple ways, but two of the most common ones are starting from a forward fold and starting on your hands and knees (table top pose). Today, we are focusing on how to properly practice downward facing dog from a table top pose. It’s important to know that no matter what pose you start in, you should be moving into downward facing dog on an exhalation.

When starting from the table top position, you want to start by making sure your hands are directly underneath each shoulder and that each knee is planted directly underneath each hip. You will also need to check that your feet and ankles are in-line with your knees; everything should be square to the front of your mat. Tuck your toes under so that your toe pads are touching the mat and make sure your hands are firmly pressing into the mat as well. Your neck needs to be in-line with your back; you should be looking towards the floor underneath your head. This is the position you will move from into downward dog.


The Basic Alignment-Based Downward Facing Dog

As you exhale, press into your hands and feet while straightening your legs. Your hips will be up to the sky; like the top of a triangle. This is the basic downward facing dog pose. Since you are reading all of this, obviously you don’t want a basic downward facing dog.

The Perfect Alignment-Based Downward Facing Dog

While you are in the basic downward facing dog position, here are a few other things to make you stand out. Let’s start with your arms. Make sure your elbows are in-line with your hands and shoulders; avoid hyperextension. However, if your arms do not go perfectly straight, that is completely normal. Some people’s bone structure is not made to fully straighten at the elbows. Next, focus on your shoulders; make sure they are strong and pulled away from your ears. Your spine should be straight all the way from your tailbone through the crown of your head. You should be looking between the ground and your shoulders when your head is at a neutral position. Your legs should be straight, but if it is too much of a strain, you can bend them slightly. Lastly, stretch your heels towards the floor; even if they do not reach. Just like with elbows, some people’s bone structure is not made to be able to touch the floor; it’s totally fine.


That’s a lot of pointers, but if you focus on just one tip a week, you will have a perfect alignment-based downward facing dog in no time. Good luck!

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