Down dog is a resting pose. If it doesn't feel that way, you have some adjusting to do.
Typically, people are bearing too much weight in their arms instead of their feet, and not reaching their chest back towards their thighs enough. Also, people tend to get "trapped in their traps" by squeezing their shoulders up to their ears. And if you don't get your hands right, you could hurt your wrists, exacerbate carpal tunnel or worse.
Here's how to do it better:
- Begin on all fours with your hands and wrists shoulders' distance apart, fingers gently spread.
- Align your wrist creases in one line, parallel to the front edge of the mat.
- Press into the knuckles of forefingers and thumbs to alleviate pressure from your wrists.
- Tuck toes and lift hips high, reach sit bones toward the ceiling.
- Reach heels down toward the mat. They don't need to touch, but you don't want to be too far forward on the balls of your feet. Reaching your heels toward the mat will allow you to distribute your weight more evenly and take some pressure off your shoulders.
- Drop head so that neck is long, and press your chest back towards your thighs.
- While you are here, shrug your shoulders all the way up to your ears. That's where you don't want to be. Release them down, as far away from the ears as possible.
- To take this a step further, see if you can widen through your armpits by rotating your upper arms slightly inward while keeping your shoulders down your back. This will create space in your shoulders throughout your yoga practice, and condition them to stay in their place!
Heidi Kristoffer is the creator of CrossFlowX™ and a wellness expert for multiple online platforms. Find her at www.heidiyoga.com.