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Asana Variations: Downward Dog

Today we're talking about Downward Dog and how we can experience it is a wide variety of ways. Downward Dog is one of the poses most often associated with Yoga in the west; but so often we are only given one possible physical variation. However, there are many ways to experience the benefits of this inversion and we wanted to share a few of those with you today! Note that while these are highly varied; they aren't even ALL the available possibilities.

Many people think about this first variation when they think of Downward Dog. Palms and feet on the mat, spine and neck long; hips reaching up towards the sky. While this is a wonderful variation; given that much of the weight is on the hands and feet this posture can feel inaccessible or uncomfortable. This particular variation can also be contraindicated for certain conditions in which the head should not be put below the heart; which may include glaucoma, high blood pressure, and inflammation in the head.


One of the first variations we'd like to discuss is the addition of blocks. Putting blocks under the hands can relieve some of the strain on the wrists and create some more space for transitions in Sun Salutations. Deeply bending the knees can also create more length in the spine and more comfort than when we're trying to force the feet flat on the floor.



This third variation is using a chair to bring the floor up to the body. This variation is wonderful for anyone who does not want to be getting up and down fully from the floor. The front or back of the chair can be used to bring the body to the height that feels most comfortable. Knees can remain soft, hinging from the hips and extending long through the upper torso as we reach for the chair.




This next variation utilizes the wall in much the same way as the chair was used in the previous variation. This variation is a wonderful one for individuals who experience contraindications to inversions, as it keeps the head above the heart. Starting in Mountain pose (standing), hinge forward at the hips and bring the hands to rest on the wall. Adjusting the width