Pose of the week: Downward Dog

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POSE OF THE WEEK: DOWNWARD DOG (OR DOWNWARD FACING DOG)
This is probably one of the most fundamental yoga poses and without a doubt its the most famous. It looks easy but it is actually quite nuanced and can take some time to get right. Its a fantastic all rounder, strengthening and stretching the whole body. If you only have time to do one pose – do downward dog!

BENEFITS:
Strengthens the legs and arms
Stretches the hands, chest, shoulders, hamstrings, calves and arches
Lengthens the spine
Relieves upper back tension
Energises the body
Calms the brain
Helps prevent osteoporosis
Good for back pain, headaches, fatigue & insomnia

CONTRAINDICATIONS
Pregnancy(after 28 weeks especially)
Carpel Tunnel or other wrist injuries

HOW TO DO DOWNWARD DOG
1) Start on all fours with knees under hips and wrists under shoulders – index fingers facing forward or slightly outwards and hands spread out and pressed down.
2) Lift the knees off the floor and keep them a little bent. Send the tailbone to the sky
3) Feel the lower tummy muscles (beneath the belly button) draw in a little
4) First focus on lengthening the spine as much as possible. Press the hands firmly in to the mat and keep the arms strong and long. Broaden across the shoulders, moving the shoulder blades towards the tailbone.
4) Keep the head in line with the ears. Don’t let it hang, or lift it up
5) Straighten the legs as much as you can without locking the knees or causing the back to round. Then start to lower the heels towards the floor, feeling the hamstrings, calves and achilles tendons lengthen. Hold for as long as you like, breathing deeply into the belly.
6) Exhale and release the knees slowly towards the floor. Bring the forehead to the floor and rest in childs pose variation with arms stretched out in front (hare pose)

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