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Proper Yoga Technique: Downward-Facing Dog

The yoga pose Downward-Facing Dog is ideal for athletes and the general population. The pose is used frequently in yoga classes as a strength building pose and transition pose.

When done properly, the pose stretches your hamstrings, shoulders, calves, hands and spine while building strength in your arms, shoulders and legs. It can help athletes and others to alleviate back pain caused by tight hamstrings.

Downward-facing dog should be held for at least 30 seconds. The longer the stretch is held the more you maximize the stretch and relax the muscles.

These are my recommendations for how to correctly perform the pose to receive the maximum benefit.

  1. Start on your hands and knees.
  2. Reach your hips up toward the ceiling.
  3. Draw your sit bones toward the wall behind you, gently begin to straighten your legs, but do not lock your knees.
  4. Bring your body into the shape of an "A".
  5. Try to bring your heels toward the floor (the heels do not have to be flat on the floor).
  6. Hold for at least 30 seconds.

Lois Maple is a PT with OrthoCarolina Winston and regularly practices yoga.

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