My yoga mentor used to joke that it wasn’t a real yoga class until we’ve done downward facing dog. It’s probably the most common pose in yoga. However, it’s also a pose that can be challenging for many. And counterindicated for others. What do you as an alternative? Try downward facing dog at the wall!
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Downward facing dog at the wall
Start by placing the short edge of a yoga mat against the wall. Place your hands on the wall and wall the feet back. The ideal position is to create an upside-down “L” shape with your torso and legs. Downward facing dog at the wall
is a great way to practice the pose without the weight of our bodies on the wrists and shoulder. It helps us find the alignment of the wrist, shoulder, and hip. And the hip, knee, ankle.
- Push hands to wall, draw hips back
- Lightly draw navel to spine, softly engaging the core
- Ears level with upper arms
This also gives us the opportunity to figure out where our bodies need adjustment. Are your legs able to straighten in downward facing dog at the wall and keep the hip, shoulder and wrist alignment?
Hamstrings feeling tight? Maybe your body will feel better with a slight bend at the knee? And if you need knees bent in downward facing dog against the wall, then you’ll need them bent in regular down dog. Another option is to elevate the heels a little. While doing downward facing dog makes the pose easier, it can also allow us to get a little sloppy and lazy. This typically presents itself in dipping through the chest and arching”the back. So make sure to be strong in the torso, and keep the core active to stabilize the trunk.
While there are many reasons to avoid inversions, sometimes it’s just nice to get out of the “usual” routine, get up off the floor and onto the wall. Not only does downward facing dog at the wall tick both those boxes, but it’s a great way to practice alignment making it great for beginners. It’s ideal for those that can’t support weight on wrists (carpal tunnel). And a great option for anyone who cannot invert due to medical issues, and a fantastic alternative during pregnancy. So why not give it a go!
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- Have you practiced yoga poses at the wall?
- Do you have issues coming into regular downward dog?
- Are you prone to arching your back?