Downward Facing Ow

My wrists have been really bugging me lately, and in looking for a yoga practice that takes weight off my hands/wrists, I found this article about why downward facing dog is bad.

Disclaimer: I am not a yoga teacher, nor do I think that my yoga teachers are wrong.  I’m not critiquing them (or any of my past instructors) in any way, and I’m certainly not trying to tell them what to do.  I’m just saying that downward facing dog is my least favorite pose, and the one that I’ve never felt comfortable in. It ALWAYS makes me feel like my wrists are about to break and that circulation is getting cut off in my hands.  My increased upper body strength has helped me shift my weight during this pose, but some days DFD just doesn’t happen for me.  This article about why my wrists hurt during DFD helped me focus on a few things to begin correcting it, but spending more than a few moments each day in this pose is not something I look forward to.  (Which is funny, considering that pigeon pose is one of my favorite ways to open up.)

In a recent class focusing on healthy backs, I learned about the joy of getting hauled up by your hips using two straps, and the immediate relief of stress in my hands, wrists, and lower back was epic.  For a brief moment it reminded me of how someday I will do aerial yoga, but then I sunk back into the relaxation of my hands not hurting.
 
The thing with downward facing dog (DFD), sometimes called Adho Mukha Svanasana, sometimes called down dog, sometimes called ugh, is that there are many tiny adjustments you can make to build strength and gain comfort, but also to learn the pose better.  I can’t find the reference right now, but I once read that when you feel totally comfortable in DFD, you’re able to begin practicing it.

I want to have a better time in DFD – it’s a major part of a sequence for so many other enjoyable poses, and it makes me feel strong.  But man, it is ROUGH.  (I almost said ‘ruff’. You’re welcome.)

There’s an interesting comment on the article I mentioned earlier that has a type of checklist to prepare you for downward facing dog.  To summarize in what appears to be order of difficulty:
– Can you hold a forearm plank for 50 seconds?
– In pushup position, can you lift a hand from the floor without twisting or flexing your trunk?
– Can you do 3 pushups with your feet on a higher surface than your hands?
– While standing, can you lift a knee toward your belly without flexing your lower back?

 

So many poses, so little time.  I’m curious as to how others feel about this pose, and how they’ve adjusted their practice to accommodate or remove it.

Meanwhile, the animal kingdom continues to kick our butts.

Photo Credit: Ben Grantham/Thinkstock

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