Downward facing dog is a great position for strengthening and mobilizing the shoulders, as well as opening up into the hamstrings.
In addition, I've thrown in a couple modifications to build on the challenge and give you an opportunity to mobilize your shoulders and build straight arm strength.
You're gonna love these! Let's dive in:
Step 1) Step your legs back and lift your hips into an upside down 'V' shape.
Move around a bit. Bend into one knee, then the other. And when you're all set, lift your hips high, bend into your knees, and PRESS the ground away from you – your chest moving towards your thighs.
Focus on straightening your arms. Doesn't matter if you have a bend in your knees at this point. Target the shoulders first, then you can work on straightening the legs. This is much more efficient than trying to straighten the legs first.
And remember! Think of this as a pushing exercise. You want to make sure your shoulders are elevated as you push. Don't worry if your legs aren't straight. That'll come later.
Step 2) If you can, try lifting your right arm off of the ground and reaching it to your left ankle. Return to the starting position (downward dog). Repeat on the other side.
This adds an additional resistance on the stabilizers around the shoulder and core. Reaching for your ankles also adds a dynamic stretch into your shoulders and hamstrings.
You can repeat these for reps (as shown in the video) or even hold your ankle for a longer period of time.
Step 3) If step 2 is a piece of cake for you, why not add a plank into the mix?
Start from downward facing dog. Reach your right hand to your left ankle. Then, reach it out in front of you as you come into a one-arm plank.
Use your left arm to press you back into a one-arm downward dog, while reaching your right hand back toward your left ankle.
Holy shoulders this is a good one!
If you can't get here yet, don't fret. Focus on spending some time in that downward facing dog. Eventually, your shoulders will improve in strength and mobility to allow for the next steps.
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for more tips, exercises, and tutorials!