Three-Legged Dog (DownDog Splits)
Sanskrit: Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana
Image of Maggie Anderson @ Moonstone Beach, Matunuck, RI taken by Donald Anderson IV
I love Downdog Splits. It’s my favorite pose to do, as well as teach in my classes. We get an awesome hamstring stretch and all along the entire leg. It feels good to open up that hip flexor as well. It’s one of my *yummy* poses. You know those poses that make you say “ahhhh”. This is one of the many! 🙂
Just like Downdog, this pose is great for aligning the spine, elongating the back, legs and arms. This pose can really open up the chest and heart as well.
More benefits are:
- Calms the brain
- Helps relieve stress and mild depression
- Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
- Relieves menstrual discomfort when done with the head supported
- Helps prevent osteoporosis
- Improves digestion
- Relieves headaches, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue
- And it is therapeutic for high blood pressure, asthma, flat feet, sciatica, and sinusitis
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. Begin to lift your knees off the mat and straighten the legs making an inverted V position with your body (DownDog). Push up up up through the tailbone. Allow your heels to reach for the mat, even if only as the intention of reaching towards 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. Press the chest down as if reaching for your thighs, open the heart. Lift high from the tailbone to the sky. Elongate the spine and feel the stretch. Breathe deeply. Allow your head to hang loose and drink your breath.
Then lift one leg up towards the sky. This can be hip level or higher. If you cannot straighten the leg, that’s okay. It’s all about your flexibility. In time your leg will get straighter and straighter and higher. Honor the wisdom of your body and go to your level today. Elongate your leg, while maintaining this three-legged dog. Enjoy this stretch.
Hold for five deep breaths. To come out, lower the leg. Go to the other side and lift to your level. Each side may react differently to flexibility and level. In time, this may balance out as you practice.
Then to come out, drop the leg down into your DownDog. From there, perhaps you can drop your knees down onto the mat and slide your hips back to your heels, coming back into Child’s pose. Rest here. This is a pose you can do whenever Down-Dog becomes a bit much. But as you strengthen your body, you will be able to hold Down-Dog longer and enjoy it more fully and deeply. 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.
When not to do this pose or to modify/Contraindications:
Be leery of practicing this pose if you have wrist issues or carpal tunnel syndrome or symptom of Diarrhea. And it’s not recommended to do this pose if you are in your late-term of pregnancy. If you have high blood pressure or a headache, try to modify this pose by supporting your head on a bolster or block, ears level between the arms.
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