Downward Facing Dog
- Mountain, Mountain range & tunnel: Depending on the theme you are working with, you can call this pose mountain! When a bunch of mountains line up hip to hip, they form a mountain range or a tunnel which is absolutely perfect for crawling through (and getting the children to stay in the pose for longer). Ask the child at the back of the mountain range or tunnel to crawl on their belly all the way to the front! Once he/she makes it through, they place their mountain hip to hip with the mountain at the front of the line. Continue on in this way until everyone has had a turn!
- Walking the dog: As I mentioned before, you can walk the dog while in downward facing dog all by yourself…but yoga is better together! When you add a partner to this pose, you also add extra laughs and fun. Have your class partner up. One partner will be the dog; one will be the dog walker. Dog walkers will grab onto the shirt of their dog and bring them for a little walk around the room. Take turns!
- Dog training: Add on to the dog walking fun by asking your dog to do some tricks… sit, roll over, play dead, etc. You can really ham it up as the dog by panting, barking, and any other silly doggy things you can think of.
- 3-legged dog: From your downward facing dog, inhale and lift one leg up towards the sky! You can hold this position for a few breaths and then switch legs OR on your exhale step your foot up between your hands. From this position you can move into so many different poses! Try a low lunge, high lunge, warrior 1 or 2, triangle, pyramid, crescent, etc. Make sure that whatever you do to one side, you do to the other!
- Dog-Frog Jacks: Similar to jumping jacks, dog-frog jacks will get your heart rate up quick! From your downward facing dog pose, exhale and jump your feet forwards towards the outsides of your hands into a frog squat. Now inhale and jump back into dog! Dog-Frogs!
- Energizes the body.
- Stretches the shoulders, arms, hamstrings, calves, arches of the feet, hands and back.
- Strengthens the arms and legs.
- Calms the mind and helps relieve stress.
- Improves digestion.
I already mentioned a few ideas for partner poses in downward facing dog, but these next ones add another dynamic to your class as they involve some acrobatics!
- Double dog: One partner comes into dog, while the other partner stands alongside them (facing the same direction) lined up at approximately the dog’s shoulders. The standing partner will fold forwards, bringing their hands about a foot in front of the dog’s. Lifting one foot at a time, the second partner will place their feet onto the dog’s hips. This is double dog! Partner 2 can do their best to bring their body to 90 degrees by walking their hands back towards the dog; as this happens partner 2’s weight will press the dog’s hips and legs towards the floor to give their legs an added stretch.
- Relaxing on a dog: Partner 1 comes into downward facing dog, while partner 2 comes to stand in front with their feet between partner 1’s hands (toes pointing the same direction as the fingers). Partner 2 will begin to slowly lean back onto the dog, at first possibly sitting on their shoulders, then resting onto their back and hips. Straightening their legs, partner 2 will also stretch their arms back while letting their weight relax onto the dog. Ahhhhhh! So nice, for both partners!
- Dog pyramid: This one is a little trickier, and should only be attempted by able bodies with the guidance of an adult – especially for those who have little yoga experience, make sure you have a spotter.
Have two partners come into a downward dog, hands facing one another. If the two dogs are relatively the same size, they may be able to come finger tips to finger tips – if one is significantly taller, then their hands can overlap as shown in the adjacent photo. A third group member will now form the top of the pyramid! Partner 3 brings their hands onto the hips of one of the dogs (as shown in the left photo below), and one leg at a time will lift their feet up onto the hips of the other dog. Now you have an amazing pyramid. Be sure to talk to your group, checking in to see that everyone in comfortable. Once you are ready to come down, do so slowly – one foot at a time.
As always, be bright, be bold, be you! Let your light shine.