Disclaimers: Consult a doctor before beginning an exercise regime. Never force a pose. Stop if you feel pain or intense discomfort. Yoga is meant to be yummy.
I love vinyasa yoga and I am obsessed with good alignment. This obsession doesn’t stem from a need for perfection, which would be very “un-yoga-like” of me, but from a passion for protecting the body from injury. Most bodies can safely practice yoga on a daily basis, but maintaining sound alignment is essential to your physical wellbeing. In this series, I will break down some common poses—explaining how to stay safe and fully enjoy each posture. Finally, remember to BREATHE consistently while practicing yoga to receive the full benefits of the practice … otherwise, you’re just stretching in Sanskrit. Today’s pose is: Downward Facing Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana.
- Hands are placed at should-length distance apart. Fingers are spread wide, and fingertips are gripping into the mat. Wrist creases are parallel to the top of the mat. These actions alleviate unnecessary weight, helping protect the wrists.
- Externally rotate the shoulders—this will mean that your elbow creases begin to face the ceiling.
- Feet should be hip-distance apart, or where your feet would naturally land standing (people have a tendency to interpret “feet hip-distance apart” as meaning feet on the edges of your mat—this is much farther than the distance of your hips. To measure, you should be able to place both of your fists between your feet).
- Keep a gentle bend in the knees. This helps the “sits” bones face up towards the ceiling.
- Toes spread wide and gripping into the mat. Drop the heels.
- Feel free to “walk your dog,” bending one leg and then the other. Then find stillness.
- Release any unnecessary tension in your neck and face.
Practicing yoga on your own can be a ton of fun, but taking a class is a great way to explore new poses under the tutelage of a trained yoga instructor; check out MINT’s yoga offerings, here.