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​Downward facing dog is perhaps one of the most common positions of vinyasa yoga and is part of the sun salutation. It is often used as a transition position. How to do it? 1. Start on all fours with your hands slightly forward of the shoulders, index fingers pointing to the front of the mat or slightly turned out. Fingers are wide apart pressed against the floor. Your back is long. 2. Exhale and push your hips (more precisely your sitting bones) skyward. Keep the knees bent at the beginning, lengthening your torso along the thighs. 3. Try to stretch the legs, pushing the upper thighs back, and lengthen the heels toward the floor while keeping a long spine and sitting bones pointing towards the sky. 4. The feet remain parallel hip width apart. 5. Widen the shoulder blades keeping them firmly pressed against the ribs and pointing towards the coccyx. 6. The head rests between the arms.

To get out of position, bend your knees and place them on the ground.

Benefits • Energizes the body and relaxes the mind • Strengthens the arms and shoulders and the feet, ankles, thighs, abs and back • Stretches the hamstrings and back muscles • Stretches, tones and lengthens the spine • May help relieve headaches (when supporting the head with a block or pad), insomnia, back pain

Precautions and contra-indications • Carpal tunnel syndrome • Uncontrolled hypertension, detached retina, glaucoma, or other infection or inflammation of the eyes. • recent or chronic injury or inflammation of the back, legs, ankles, knees, hips, wrists, arms or shoulders.

Many people new to yoga find this position uncomfortable to hold for a long time mainly because they lack openness and strength in the back, arms and legs. It must be said that this position is not easy in the beginning !!! If this is the case for you, start with the puppy (similar to the dog except that the knees are on the floor). To prepare the body to the position of the downward facing dog, the practice of cat-cow, the plank and the (half) standing forward fold and working on mobility and opening the shoulders can help develop the strength and openness needed.

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Nathalie Doswald

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