Yoga Pose of the Week – Focus on the Hamstrings and Calves

Our yoga pose of the week is a downward facing dog. 

Downward facing dog is an energizing pose that can be practiced by all levels at home or in the gym!

Some benefits of downward facing dog pose are:

  • Balance in the body and mind. Since this pose stretches and strengthens both upper and lower areas of the body, it is amazing for feeling more balanced.
  • Stretches out the hamstrings and calves.
  • Elongates your spine. This position can help you find some gentle traction in the back and feel a gentle stretch there. This is very helpful if you sit a lot!
  • Helps you to focus on breathing, which can be calming.
  • Strengthens and stretches out the chest and shoulders.

Overall, this pose has so many benefits and should be practiced regularly!

Directions:

  • Begin in a table-top position (hands and knees). Make sure your shoulders are right over your wrists and your hips are over your knees.
  • Next, press firmly into your palms, tuck your toes, lift your knees and send your hips up and back, making a V shape with your body. Work to eventually straighten the knees.
  • Do not lose contact with your fingers and the floor, press into them a lot to help support your wrists!
  • Intend your heels towards the ground. They do not have to touch.
  • Make sure your back is flat, not rounded or arched and that equal weight is on your hands and feet.
  • Keep breathing deeply. Hold for about 1 minute.
  • Lastly, to release out of the pose, lower the knees down and sit your hips down towards your heels for a few breaths. This is child’s pose. It is a good transition so you don’t get light-headed from standing up too quickly after being inverted.

Tips:

  • If it feels good, you can try bending one knee at a time. Let your hips gently shift side to side as you switch between bending opposite knees. This will intensify the stretch in the calves and hips.
  • If you have any wrist issues, you can try to lower all the way to your knees. Keep the hips high. This is known as puppy dog pose. It will put less strain on your wrists. This can also be done if the full expression of downward dog isn’t accessible to you yet.
  • Try to keep a micro bend in the elbows to increase the arm stability and strengthening in this pose.

Vanessa Kiriakou

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