Some beginners tell me that the Downward Facing Dog position is not relaxing or comfortable for them. Several clients describe pain in their wrists and shoulders. These 4 tips can help put you at ease with one of the most common yoga poses:
Softening The Shoulders
Putting all of your weight in to the upper body and mostly in the shoulders will cause you to fatigue quickly in this pose. It is also causing tightness to be created there when it should be that we are creating space. Relax the shoulders down and away from the ears. Try to pull the shoulders back and down to release any tension.
Gazing Directly At The Big Toes
In my classes I see a lot of beginners looking straight down at the mat or towards their hands while shifting to downward-facing dog. This makes it hard to distribute the weight evenly in to the lower and upper body. Holding a slight gaze towards your toes causes the neck to relax and stay line with the spine.
Lifting The Hips Up And Back While Pulling The Heels Down
It is ok if your heels do not hit the mat in downward-facing dog. If you are less flexible they might hover. Try to push your heels down towards the mat even if they don’t touch down. This activates the muscles in back of the legs. Also, push your hips up and back as high towards the ceiling as you can while pushing the heels down. This creates a shift that helps secure balance in the upper and lower body.
Pressing Into The Knuckles Or The Middle Fingers
When a participant describes pain or discomfort in their wrists I typically notice that their fingers are lifting off the mat. Separate your fingers wide apart from each other to release any tension from your wrists. Also, press some of your weight in to the center of your hands by pushing your knuckles down towards the mat. Another way to secure the wrists is to press the middle fingers down to the mat on both hands.
Make sure that you remember to breathe. Breathing seems obvious, but you may hold your breath and not even notice it. Some beginners take quick “panic” breaths which also make it more challenging. Try to focus on taking deep even breaths while keeping a clear mind or focusing on positive thoughts.