rippy60

Can't get the proper form for Downward Dog

13 posts in this topic

Hi Guys, 

I did a 30 day yoga challenge and felt like it went a bit quick so decided to go back and check in with the basics. I went to check my form and found my lower back to be curved in downward dog, I've attached a pic. I tried bending my knees a bit as well but I have the exact same problem, also tried going as high as I could on my toes which I'm doing in the picture to see if that would help and it doesn't. Anyone have any tips or exercises with how to fix this? I don't usually wear shoes or socks doing yoga, just did this before a workout. Thanks in advance for any help.

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 12.19.29.png

yogafire and YogaByCandace like this

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*advice from an advanced beginner, so take it with a grain of salt

Bend the knees...keep bending them until you can feel comfortable pushing your hips up and back

rippy60 likes this

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Your form isn't as bad as you may think, and it's better than I'm able to do at this time - I have to bend my knees *a lot* and still get a smiler bend in my low back. You could try using a somewhat wider stance (move hands and feet further apart). Also make sure you engage the quads as this signals the hamstrings to relax, while consciously shifting your weight back.

Seeing an experienced teacher in real life may well be more effective, as they would be better able to evaluate you and make adjustments.

Edited by robert
rippy60 likes this

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Looks like a fantastic downward dog to me! Your body is in just the right upside down V shape, and you have impressive flexibility in the shoulders/chest to be able to have your armpits long like you do. I would suggest trying stepping your feet maybe 2-3 inches forward than you have in this picture and keep the bend in your knees but maintain this overall shape as you invite the heels to come down to the ground. Just keep it in the back of your mind, don't get hung up on the heels, and work every day on trying to open up those hamstrings. As soon as you do, those heels will come down without a problem and you will have a textbook downward dog, but for now? It's perfect given what you're working with (tight hammies).

rippy60 likes this

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Thanks for the input everyone, I'll make sure to try out whats been suggested and see if I can sort it out. I got into yoga to sort out some of my flexibility problems, my lower back keeps slightly curving while performing lifts/ squats while working out, so I've been avoiding that until I sort it out instead of risking a back injury for myself. It's just a bit frustrating for it to be happening with yoga as well but I'll keep with it. Thanks again guys! 

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Thanks for the input everyone, I'll make sure to try out whats been suggested and see if I can sort it out. I got into yoga to sort out some of my flexibility problems, my lower back keeps slightly curving while performing lifts/ squats while working out, so I've been avoiding that until I sort it out instead of risking a back injury for myself. It's just a bit frustrating for it to be happening with yoga as well but I'll keep with it. Thanks again guys! 

Oh! You know what may help (in addition to working on hamstring flexibility) is working with your pelvic tilt. A round in the low back sounds like the pelvis is tilting back. If you tilt it in slightly, you may be able to straighten out the low back. Remember that everything is connected so in addition to the hamstrings, I would also focus on hip opening like this, this and this to give you a little more mobility with the pelvis. If you wanted to get crazy, here's a 30 day hip opening yoga program you can follow along to.

Edited by YogaByCandace

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The short answer is practice everyday for the rest of your life.
 
I really like your question. It implies that you know the pose very well. The main purpose of downward dog is to lengthen the spine, a long straight spine. The position of the heels isn’t a concern in this pose.
You have a restriction or shortness in the back side of the legs, the hamstrings. The hamstrings pull on the sit bones and that pull rotates the hips backward. The lower spine is strongly connected to the hips so it is pulled along with the rotation of the hips and the lower spine sticks out a little. If you can picture a circle covering your whole hip area picture the top of the circle rotating backwards towards the backside of the legs and pulling and rotating the spine along with it.
 
You just have to keep practicing. Try the link at the bottom of Larry’s signature. That is for the backside of the legs and hips. But we don’t just want to work on one side of the body. That will create an imbalance, more susceptible to injuries or dysfunction in other ways. We have to work on the front side as well, the psoas and quads. This type of opening and lengthening will take years. So we have to accept and be grateful for where we are now and enjoy the process.
 
For now you could try bending your knees and widening your feet almost to the edges of the mat. And learning the the teaching of the pose very thoroughly. Your pose does look very good but always good to review as well  https://www.byronyoga.com/asana-spotlight-adho-mukha-svanasana/
 
 

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Your form looks great Rippy60! I see what you mean about the low back, and frankly, it's less about form from what I can tell, and about flexibility. There are lots of poses in yoga that take years to get to "perfection" (Hint - no such thing). But as long as you have the right guidelines, you will find that in time you will improve. Definitely working more on opening the hamstrings will help, but it won't be overnight. As long as you are not experiencing pain with the slight rounding in the low back, I don't see an issue. If you are experiencing pain, then maybe try bringing the hands onto blocks, or even practicing finding that 90 degree angle with the feet flat on the floor and hands to the wall - just keep pressing the hands into the wall to press the hips away. Keep at it!

scottcraft and afriske like this

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I also have great difficulty in doing downward dog.  I have tight hamstrings and am overall not very flexible.  Another problem I have is that I have shorter than normal arms.  I'm new so I hope if I keep doing it my flexibility for that pose will improve.  Doubtful I will be able to do anything about the short arms though ;)

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11 hours ago, jordan86 said:

I also have great difficulty in doing downward dog.  I have tight hamstrings and am overall not very flexible.....

 

Bend you knees as much as needed. Pretend someone has a rope around your waist pulling up and back. Don't worry about getting your heels down, just focus on pushing your hips up and back.

The beautiful photos you see on the Internet are folk who've done it for years, don't compare yourself to them. The image below is what you might strive for, insteaddownward-facing-dog-a-ctr.thumb.jpg.5220

 

Legs on the wall for five minutes is a great warm up for hamstrings

Legs-up-the-Wall-2-340x500.jpg.cb1d8d2e7

do you attend classes? Speak with instructor who can help you

 

brenskip55 likes this

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On December 21, 2015 at 7:45 PM, jordan86 said:

I also have great difficulty in doing downward dog.  I have tight hamstrings and am overall not very flexible.  Another problem I have is that I have shorter than normal arms.  I'm new so I hope if I keep doing it my flexibility for that pose will improve.  Doubtful I will be able to do anything about the short arms though ;)

Your arm length isn't going to be an issue in downward dog. I'm 6' and my arms are relatively short for my height. This does make some poses more difficult, especially lunge type positions, but it can still be done. Keep practicing and you'll be fine!

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On December 21, 2015 at 8:45 PM, jordan86 said:

I also have great difficulty in doing downward dog.  ...

I got, sort of, reprimanded before my class on Saturday when I told my instructor, "I can't..." (referring to a particular bind position).

He said

Quote

"...then you're not doing yoga...since yoga isn't about what you can't do, but rather what you can, focus on what ever you are able to achieve and say wow, look at what I'm doing!"

It took a while for it to sink in, but when class started and he asked a particularly demanding move, a move I'm always wobbling and stumbling to achieve), I didn't complain that I was struggling, but rather celebrated when I got to the position.

Enjoy the beauty of your dog, no matter what it looks like. Yoga is for no one else, it's for you, enjoy the struggle, the challenges and celebrate the minor accomplishments. Inhale and bring in new energy...exhale washing away any toxins or negative thoughts...including your frustrations, especially with respect to your limitations. It will come, it takes time...how much time? Yoga is a lifetime, not a goal. Remember the words of the eminent philosopher,  ybc, practice makes progress

 

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