Downward Facing Dog Troubleshooting

I think I probably get more questions about downward facing dog than any other yoga posture. It makes an appearance in nearly every yoga class, and if you take a vinyasa class, you will probably do a thousand of them. (OK maybe not a thousand but it feels like it!) Lots of teachers will say something to the effect of "ok now exhale to downward facing dog" without any other specific instruction, assuming students know what they are supposed to be doing. This leads to a lot of "Am I doing this right?" and/or complaints about wrist or shoulder pain after class. Downward facing dog is often included in a beginner's class or early in a yoga practice, and it's often described as "a resting pose" even though it's kind of complex and can stress multiple joints.

So let's take some time to examine downward facing dog to see how we can make it feel better.

Here's an analysis of the posture, and a few things to do to prepare:

In general, it's important to do some simple preparation for the spine, stretch the legs a little bit, and prepare the wrists and shoulders for weight bearing.

Then, find your specific alignment. The general guideline for downward facing dog is hands shoulder width apart. In the video, you can see that's way too narrow for me! Follow along to find out how to figure out what is the best placement for YOU.

Give this prep work a try and let me know how it goes!