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4 Downward Facing Dog Alternatives

Image of someone doing downward facing dog with the title of the blog post's text at the bottom that says "4 downward facing dog alternatives"

Have you ever been in a yoga class and just wasn’t in the mood for any more downward facing dogs? Or maybe you have a shoulder injury that makes downdog feel not so great? Yeah – me too! Here are my favorite downward facing dog alternatives to offer during a vinyasa sequence.

Before I share these, I wanted to just go over why someone might choose these downward facing dog alternatives (and this is by no means an exhaustive list!). And before anyone says anything about modifications – let’s just think of these as different ways of practicing that feel good. Who says you have to do a thousand downdogs in a class?

These alternatives might be good for you if:

  • You have shoulder pain/rotator cuff issues/tight shoulders in downdog
  • Downdog feels exhausting
  • You’re just tired that day
  • Stepping your foot between your hands is challenging and you just want to move quickly through a class
  • You just don’t feel like doing yet another downdog (anyone else feel this way? lol)
  • Your hamstrings are tight/have any kind of achilles pain or discomfort
  • You have wrist pain/discomfort
  • You have elbow pain/discomfort

Downward Facing Dog Alternative #1

Drop to your hands and knees, then come into the different lunges:

GIF video of downward facing dog alternative #1: Drop to your hands and knees and then come into the lunges from there.

Downward Facing Dog Alternative #2

Come into a child’s pose instead of downward facing dog, and then step your foot forward for the lunges:

GIF video of downward facing dog alternative #2: Come into a child's pose instead of a downdog and then come into lunges from there.

Downward Facing Dog Alternative #3

If you’re at home practicing, you could use a chair to come into downward facing dog. This will make it easier to get your foot to land at the top of your mat when you step the foot forwards. This is also a particularly good option for someone who has tight shoulders (if you’re not sure if you have tight shoulders, check out my blog post that will teach you how to check: How to Know if you have Tight Shoulders)

GIF video of downward facing dog alternative #3: Use a chair seat under your hands and come into a downdog from there. You can then step your foot between your hands using the chair under your hands the whole time.

Downward Facing Dog Alternative #4

Use blocks underneath your hands to do a downward facing dog. This is a similar option for the chair, but you’ll feel your shoulders more here. Having blocks under your hands will also make it easier to step your foot forwards.

GIF video of downward facing dog alternative #4: Use yoga blocks under your hands to come into downward facing dog and move through your vinyasa sequence from there.

If you’re struggling with stepping your foot forwards, make sure you check out my YouTube video that teaches you the tricks to getting that foot to land at the top of your mat:

I think my favorite downward facing dog alternative is #4.

Let me know in the comments below: Which of these was your favorite? How come?

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