Downward Facing Dog to Plank Waves
Sanskrit: Adho Mukha Svanasana
prati Phalakasana UttaraGgate
Photo of Maggie Anderson taken by Maggie Anderson
Downward Facing Dog is a perfect inverted “V” in the body. It’s great for aligning the spine, elongating the back, legs and arms. This pose can really open up the chest and heart as well. Downdog has many other benefits you can read on the Downdog pose page. Plank pose is great for strengthening the arms, wrists and spine, as well as toning the abdomen. I love to do Downdog to Plank waves. It really releases stagnant and blocked energies from our root chakra all the way up the spine through the belly and through the crown of the head. This is also a great variation for releasing more toxins from our internal organs. Love it! 🙂 This Vinyasa variation is also a part of the Core Sun Salutation sequence.
Directions on how to come into the pose:
Begin in Child’s pose (knees on ground, slide hips back to meet heels and rest head on mat). Then slowly rise up, keep hands on mat slightly forward from shoulders and knees under hips. Curl the toes under and begin to lift your knees off the mat, straightening the legs making an inverted V position with your body. Push up up up through the tailbone. Allow your heels to reach for the mat (they do not need to touch but if and when they do, see if you can lift your toes off the mat, but only if heels are touching the mat). No air bubbles in those hands, fingers wide and hands shoulder width apart. Feet are hip distance. Shoulders are wide and back and away from the ears; and in a nice centered location – not too far forward or back. Press the chest down as if reaching for your thighs, open the heart. Though remember to avoid a banana back. Lift high from the tailbone to the sky. Elongate the spine and feel the stretch. Allow your head to hang loose and drink your breath. Breathe deeply.
Begin Downdog to Plank Waves. On an inhale come into plank pose with a wave motion. Roll your spine from the your Root Chakra at your tailbone all the way up your spine through your Crown Chakra, lowering your hips down as you go so that you end up in a Plank position with a straight line of energy from your head all the way down to your heels. Wrists are under shoulders in Plank pose, neck elongated. Being mindful of good alignment as you flow. Exhale, bending your knees back almost in a hovering child’s pose, then straighten legs in Downdog and begin the wave back up again. Inhale Plank, exhale to Downdog. Repeat 3-5x. Come to rest in Downdog once again.
To come out, you may drop your knees down onto the mat and slide your hips back to your heels, coming back into Child’s pose. Rest here. Slide your hands up to your knees sitting up and roll out your wrists. Down Dog works a lot in the wrists, so it’s helpful to loosen them up; release the tension.
When not to do this pose or to modify / Contraindications:
You may need avoid or modify this pose if you have Carpel tunnel syndrome or symptom of Diarrhea. If accessible, you may modify by coming onto your forearms in a low Downdog (Dolphin variation) and low plank position. The wave will be more subtle but possible. It’s, also, not recommended to do this pose if you are in your late-term of pregnancy. If you have high blood pressure or a headache modify where possible and always listen to your body.
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