Today is the 1st day of BeachYogaGirl’s Instagram Challenge, and the pose is Downward Facing Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana.  If you want to know more about just what the heck I’m trying to accomplish here, check out my previous post.

On to the yoga-ing!

Downward Facing Dog

This month, I want to specifically talk about modifications for poses and common beginner problems and misconceptions.  I think there’s a wealth of information on HOW to do poses and not too much talk about the things that happen on the way to getting in the pose.

Do your wrists hurt?  Try spreading the fingers wide and pressing into the mat with the whole hand instead of applying most of your weight into the heels of your hand.  Speaking of weight, you should also be stretching your hips back (by pointing your tailbone toward the ceiling or bending your knees) to take some of that weight out of your hands.  You can also place blocks under your hands which will open up the shoulders and make this a bit easier.

They still hurt!  Stop.  Take a break.  See a doctor, possibly.  When I first started yoga I couldn’t support my body with my arms AT ALL.  My hands and wrists would be sore because the musculature wasn’t there to support my body weight due to being inactive for a long period of time.  I tried to power through, and I just ended up injuring myself and unable to work for two weeks.  There’s a line between helpful movement encouraging muscle growth and damaging movement to the body.  If your pain is sharp and stabby, STOP.  Below, I will list some pose alternatives for injuries.

Your heels can’t touch the ground:  That’s okay!  If you notice, mine don’t either.  I’ve been walking a lot here lately, and my hips and legs are tight.  After about 10 minutes of yoga, I can get them there.  That’s today.  Some days I start with heels on the ground no problem, and other days they don’t ever get there.  Your feet are just going to do what they do. Don’t try to painfully force them down.  Don’t get into a big story about how your feet aren’t good enough.  Little things like this is what this yoga stuff is all about.  Accept and appreciate where your body is RIGHT NOW.

Okay what now?:  Believe it or not, this is a resting pose.  I used to laugh when people told me this because a lot of muscles are at work to keep you in this position.  Over time it will become more restful.   In your home practice, you may want to start hanging out in this pose for 30 seconds while breathing deeply.  If you can’t do that long…just start wherever you are.  Even if you can only do one second today; tomorrow, you could be doing it for 1.5 seconds.  Next year, you might be sticking your leg up over your head at the Grand Canyon on Instagram.  WHO KNOWS?  Practice. Practice. Practice.

If you don’t want to/cannot do this pose:  Here are some similar alternatives that might be easier on your wrists or shoulders:

Extended Puppy


Extended Child’s Pose