Partnerwork: Downward Facing Dog for Two

In preparation for our P(art)nerwork Acro Yoga Series at Hot Art Wet City, we're giving you some homework. Deepen your poses by working with a partner in a grounding downward facing dog so that you're ready to fly in May (registration live! sign up here).


When I began practicing yoga, one of the first things I learned was that downward facing dog was supposed to be a resting pose. A refuge. A place to breathe. A moment to collect and center during practice. In theory.

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Sometimes.

Sometimes, my hamstrings killed, my shoulders were almost touching my ears because I slept in a weird position last night, and I was accidentally constricting my breath while craning to see something that caught my eye on the other side of the room.

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Downward facing dog is one of those poses that took me a long time to “get.” It feels like a resting pose now, but it didn’t for the first five years I practiced it. The pose develops grounding, soothing qualities as it becomes more physically familiar.

I don’t mean to say that I was bad at it and now I’m good at it. Rather, form and technique aren’t enough. There’s a certain mental “letting go” in the posture that allows for a rushing sensation of acceptance… the deep stretch and deeper breath follows shortly thereafter.

So how does one find relaxation and relief in downward facing dog pose? There is one thing I’ve found that totally expedites the process and lets the magic sink in.

 

Kum-ba-ya moment *everyone joins hands* ...it’s your friends!  

Offering and receiving physical adjustments in downward dog pose is one of the best ways to get you closer to how the pose is “supposed” to feel.

 

Option 1:

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1. Friend 1: take downward dog pose.

2. Friend 2: stand behind Friend 1, placing your feet just outside their feet, facing the same direction.

3. Place your forearms just above either side of Friend 1’s hip bones and clasp your hands together on top of their back.

4. Bend your knees and lean back, straightening through the arms and creating an arm-belt around Friend 1’s back. This will release the pressure from their hands and shoulders, as well as take tension off of their lower back. Take several deep breaths here, then stand and release your grip.

 

Option 2:

1. Friend 1: take downward dog pose.

2. Friend 2: stand facing Friend 1’s head, with your feet placed outside their hands.

3. Place your hands on their sacrum (lower back), bend your arms, and lower your chest onto their back. Release your hands and use them to rotate Friend 1’s thighs inward, move their shoulders away from their ears, and release tension from their neck. After several deep breaths, bring your hands back to their hips and push yourself slowly to standing.