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Stretch of the Week: Downward Dog

Downward Dog

Downward Dog

Today’s stretch of the week is commonly referred to a downward facing dog in the yoga scene. While CrossFitters may be less familiar with this transitional pose it holds many benefits for athletes and yogis alike.

What are the benefits?

Like the poses that stood before the down dog, this stretch has a plethora of internal benefits, that go beyond the realm of merely lengthening the physical body.

-Stretches the shoulders, calves and hamstrings.

-Strengthens the arms.

– Tones the thighs.

-Alleviates stress and mild depression.

-Relieves headaches, insomnia and symptoms of menstruation.

-Stimulates the digestive organs.

Downward Dog

How is it done?

1. Begin this pose on all fours with hands and thighs shoulder width apart, ensure the spine is long and let the knees fall in line with the hips.

2. Spread the hands, tuck your toes under and press into the palms.

3. Exhale and lift the knees off the floor. As you adjust into the pose, you may let the knees bend slightly.

4. Shift the tailbone away from the back of your pelvis and transfer some of the weight toward the pubis. With this resistance raise the tailbone toward the sky or ceiling and be conscious of pulling the legs into the groin.

5. Straighten the legs but be sure the knees are not completely locked out. Activate the thighs and very slightly turn them in toward each other.

6.  Press into the fingertips and contract the shoulder blades, then let them widen and pull them down toward the tailbone. Ensure the head is placed comfortably between the shoulders but don’t let it hang.

7. Relax and hold the stretch upwards of 40 seconds to 2 minutes. Stay in down dog for however long your body requires, but be sure to maintain relaxed breathing.

8. When you feel ready to come out of the stretch exhale, bend the knees and let them gently fall to the floor, returning to all fours.

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