Find Your Shape – Downward Dog

Our bodies all look, feel and react differently every single day and what might have worked yesterday/last week/last year just might not work today. That’s fine

In fact it is great

And seeing as yoga teaches us to listen to our bodies we should listen to how poses make us feel rather than how they look.

What can often happen in yoga is there is a shape we feel we should pop our bodies into regardless of how it feels. This Find Your Shape series is here to remind you and inspire you that you can often find a shape that may be different but should hopefully be right on that day.

Because if our practice can’t adapt then what is the point?

What are we looking to achieve in Downward Facing Dog?

When I teach and practice downward facing dog I am looking to lengthen the spine and find some space in the torso. Personally I am not looking to stretch the hamstrings and calves, although a little walk on the spot is always nice.

When we think about lengthening the spine we are looking to move the hips away from the shoulders and find some pace to breathe

In which case all of these lovely options will also help you do just that…so Find Your Shape

Downward Dog

From hands and knees spread through the hands to take up as much as space as possible.

As you lift the knees from the floor keep them pretty bent so you can work on lifting the bottom towards the ceiling.Maybe peddle through the feet here if this feels ok for you.

Try keeping the knees soft rather than totally straight and see how it feels. Keep some strength between the shoulders so they don’t collapse and focus on that length from sit bones to the crown of the head

Chair Downward Dog

Make sure your chair is pretty stable, you can always pop something onto the seat to weight it down if you’re a little unsure if it might tip.

Place your hands onto the back of the chair and gradually walk the feet back until your back is relatively parallel to the floor (this obviously depends on yours /your chairs proportions)

Keep the knees a little soft and feet hip distance apart so you can focus on the length in the spine. Again keep a little bit of activity between the shoulder blades to avoid dumping here.

Three Legged Dog

For when you’re feeling strong!

Set up your downward dog the same way as above and float one leg towards the ceiling.

Try to keep that activity between the shoulder blades and the shoulders even. In this variant keep the hips closed with the toes pointing towards the floor (I know mine are turning out a little!)

Focus on the length in the spine still, adding the lifted leg to that length. Have the feeling of the supporting heel drawing towards the floor, if that feels ok


Perfect for finding length when you’re feeling like being softer.

From all fours walk the hands forward, keeping the hips and knees stacked, until you find the chest drawing down and the length of your spine increasing.

Keep a little activity between the shoulders to stop dipping into the chest immediately. You can gradually feel the chest lower as you stay here if it feels ok to do so

That’s it for the first edition of Find Your Shape. If you tried any of these options or have a favourite please let me know in the comments below

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