We received a very good question from a Gotta Joga user, on DownDog. Our Yoga Teacher Anu Visuri answered.
“I’m still fighting with the downdog. If I want to keep my back long, then I can’t put my feet on the mat. I have to bend my knees and stay on my toes. After a few months I haven’t seen much progress. What can I do?!”.
Having the heels down on the floor and the knees straight is not important in the DownDog. It is more important to keep the spine neutral and long, exactly what you have been doing. That is really good!
Since we don’t see your DownDog pose, it is a bit difficult to give you advice, but here are some tips you can try:
Make a slightly longer and wider stance in your DownDog.
Keep the spine long, the knees bent and the heels up.
Make the legs strong by pulling the shins towards each other, but make sure the knees stay as wide apart as the feet.
Pull your lower belly in and up, lift your hips up toward the ceiling, and widen your sitting bones apart.
Lift your gaze to your hands and pull your shoulders on your back.
Imagine you are doing a back bend here in the DownDog.
Keep the spine long, hips up, and the shoulders on your back.
With your hands push the mat away from you and push the hips and the backs of your legs back and up.
Then, really slowly and carefully straighten the knees a little more and press the heels towards the floor.
But, keep the spine long!
You can repeat this couple of times and stay in the end pose for five breaths.
It might take a while before you notice some difference in the pose, but keep practising!
Stretching the backs of your legs in a standing or/and sitting forward bend might also help the alignment in DownDog. When the backs of your legs (hamstrings) are longer, DownDog will also be easier.
Thank you for practicing with Gotta Joga!
Anu Visuri, yoga teacher and co-founder of Gotta Joga
Certified Anusara® yoga teacher registered with Yoga Alliance (E-RYT 500 & YACEP).