Not only is yoga great for fitness, but it can also help teens improve their overall health and well-being! Downward facing dog is one of my favorite yoga postures, and for good reason; the posture offers many benefits for both body and mind, including:
- Strengthens arms and legs (better for those form-fitting clothes)
- Stretches the back, hamstrings, calves, Achilles tendon and plantar fascia
- Calms the brain, relieving stress and tension (think midterm stress!)
- Improves digestion (forget the fries)
- Energizes the body, mitigates fatigue (get more sleep too)
- Relieves insomnia and headache
- Start on all fours on the mat (or floor) with your palms pressed into the mat, your wrists directly under shoulders, your knees directly under hips, and yours shins and tops of your feet in contact with the mat.
- Press into the palms, and engage the core to lift your knees off the mat. Bring your heels towards the mat as you lengthen and straighten the legs (if hamstrings are very tight, keep a little bend in the knee to release any strain). Keep the middle fingers are pointing forward towards the front of the room and the fingers spread apart, like a starfish. Feel contact between the mat and all points of the hand: palms, fingers, outside edges of the thumb.
- Teen beginners often tend to bend the spine, caving the chest towards the floor and shortening the lower spine. Think instead about creating a long and straight spine by pressing the palms firmly into the mat and shift the hips towards the crease where the back wall and ceiling meet.
- Draw the upper arms in, creating space across the upper back. Keep the head between the arms and look at your legs.
Down Dog modifications/variations:
- Place hands on blocks.
- If you have wrist issues, lower forearms to the mat to come to dolphin pose. Slide a strap around the upper arms to keep the distance between them fixed; press the arms outward against the straps to create resistance. This provides stability as you use resistance to build strength.
- If you’re just looking to stretch out the legs and back or relieve stress, come into down dog for a few breaths. Because the pose forces you to shift your gaze away from the action of a room, it allows you to center yourself and calm down. The pose also reverses the flow of blood, promoting good circulation and energizing the body.
Last reviewed Nov 24.,2014