Video: Downward dog

Well known for its overall body stretch and energising qualities this pose is included in most yoga classes. It deeply stretches the lower body including the hamstrings, calves and ankles, meanwhile it strengthens the arms, shoulders and legs.

Widely used as a transitional pose our down dog can be used alone to increase blood flow and energy. I offer my beginner students blocks underneath their palms to take pressure off their wrists and shoulders.

Steps

Spread your fingers wide, press firmly into hands, bring your body into the shape of an A, press the floor away from you, internally rotate armpits, lift through pelvis, soft heels, exhale chest towards thighs and let go of the neck in between your arms, engage legs and continue to let the sit bones lift. I personally always start to walk out my legs to compress my spine and lengthen my legs.

Contraindications

  • Do not do this pose late term pregnancy.
  • Shoulder injury: don't do downward dog.
  • Wrist injury: try dolphin pose instead
Eliza Hayward