4 Downward Facing Dog Alternatives

Recently I’ve been dealing with a bit of shoulder pain (specifically my rotator cuff) for a few months now. As a result, downdog has started to bother my shoulder a bit, which has made me get a bit creative with my vinyasa yoga practice since so much of vinyasa is downdog. I thought this could be helpful for you as well, so I wanted to share with you a few alternatives to downdog I’ve been using in my own yoga practice.

Before I share these, I wanted to just go over why someone might choose these alternatives (and this is by no means an exhaustive list!). I think modifications get a bad rap in yoga, and I’m here to say MODIFY MODIFY MODIFY!! I modify almost everything in some shape or form when I practice. If it feels better, why not do it? It doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. It doesn’t mean you’re “cheating.” It means you’re listening to your body and doing something that will feel BETTER, which is really the whole point of doing a yoga practice isn’t it? To feel good and grounded and calm? Soooo these alternatives might help you too 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

Let me know if you can think of other reasons – I’d love to hear them!

So, if any of those reasons resonate with you, here are a few alternatives you can try in your next vinyasa class.

Downdog Alternative #1:

Downdog Alternative #2:

Downdog Alternative #3:

Downdog Alternative #4:

I think my favorite is currently #4. Give these a try and then let me know which one is your favorite!

Till next time,

Kate

P.S. If you enjoyed this blog post and want more yoga tips to help you build a stronger, more flexible and dependable body, join my mailing list where I send out weekly tips like this. You can sign up here. Please also feel free to share this with anyone who you think might benefit from these tips!

4 Yoga Myths & Yoga Truths

Have you ever heard any of these cues or statements about yoga and how it can benefit you? If so, you may be hearing a few yoga myths that permeate the yoga world. Keep reading to find out 4 yoga myths and the reasons why these are myths and not truths.

Picture of someone doing downward facing dog with text overlaid that reads "4 Yoga Myths and 4 Yoga Truths".

Yoga Myth #1: Your Heels Should Touch the Ground in Downward Dog

Big NO here – if they do, great. If they don’t, also great. Your heels getting to the ground in downdog depends on a few different things:

  • Calf and hamstring flexibility
  • Shoulder flexibility
  • The length of your achilles tendon – some people are born with long achilles tendons – these people can most likely get their heels down. Some people are born with shorter achilles tendons – these people probably won’t ever be able to get their heels down. This is an anatomical difference that can’t be changed (tendons should not be stretched). Here’s an image of where your Achilles is, so you can better understand how it impacts your downdog:
Image of the back of a foot and calf with the achilles tendon highlighted in red.

The most important thing here? Listen to your body and don’t push past your end range of motion just cause your neighbor is. Put a blanket or pillow under your heels if you really want to know what it feels like to get your heels down in downdog – and voila! Your heels are down.

Want to learn more about downward facing dog? Check out my YouTube video about how to do it:

Yoga Myth #2: Relax Your Glutes (Butt Muscles) in Bridge Pose and Other Backbends

NOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Without getting super bogged down in biomechanics and anatomy – your butt muscle is IN CHARGE of helping you backbend. Your backbends will get so much better if you use your butt muscles – I promise. Not to mention any kind of low back crunchy feeling you might have that is so common with backbends will likely decrease. Don’t believe me? Just give it a try and then drop me a comment and tell me if you noticed a difference.

Yoga Myth #3: Will Yoga Help Me Lose Weight?

This can be a sensitive subject with some mixed answers on whether or not yoga has affected someone’s weight loss. The short answer on this is that it wasn’t the yoga – it was either:

  • The added amount of physical activity because you were doing absolutely nothing before
  • OR
  • You also started to eat less than you had been eating before and it coincided with when you started yoga.

The only way to lose weight is to eat in a calorie deficit = Calories In < Calories Out.

However, there is a way you can use yoga to aid in your weight loss journey. If. youwant to learn more about calorie counting, check out Jordan Syatt’s YouTube Channel. To read more about how you can use yoga to lose weight, check out my other blog post where I cover this in my more detail:

Yoga Myth #4: You Can’t Get Injured Doing Yoga

WOAHHH is this wrong. I’m not quite sure where this thinking stems from, but it’s something people are always very surprised by when I mention that some of my injuries have come from my yoga practice. If I had to guess, I think it’s because doctors often tell their patients to do yoga and people get misled into thinking that means they can’t hurt themselves.

Anytime you move your body, you can get injured.

This is why it’s important to be in a class or one-on-one setting when you’re learning yoga – especially if you’re coming to yoga because a doctor has told you it will help you with pain you might be having. If you fall into this category, please please take advantage of my free 30 min. 1-1 zoom yoga sessions that I offer to first time students. This is how you should be starting a yoga practice or coming to yoga with an injury. A group class or YouTube might be cheaper, but it’s not always the best way for your body. In this case, since you’re reading this, it’s neither cheaper nor the best way cause my first zoom private session is always free! Head over here to the link below to sign up:

Here are some questions for you – drop me a comment with your answers:

  1. Do you have any yoga myths you think belong on this list?
  2. Not sure about a cue you heard in class?
  3. Anything unclear?