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Downward-Facing Dog (aka Downward Dog) is one of the most common yoga poses out there, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Many of us can’t quite get our heels to touch the ground due to tightness in our hamstrings and calves, and you also need shoulder strength and mobility to hold yourself up. As much of a “resting” pose as Downward Dog might seem (compared to the headstands and lunge holds of your practice), you’re not alone if you find it tough from time to time.
“The two big movements of the body in Down Dog are shoulder flexion (arms above head) and hip flexion (thighs come closer to chest/stomach),” explained yoga instructor Sarah Randall, RYT-200. By working into both of those movements, you can make this pose more comfortable and accessible for your body, so we asked seven yoga instructors to give us their favorite stretches and poses to help you do just that. Remember, though, that it’s OK if your Downward Dog isn’t totally textbook by the end. Focus on the overall form of the pose and finding a comfortable way to perform it, and the rest will come with practice and consistency.