Home  >  Magazine  >  Issue 15 : Mar/Apr 2007  > Columns  >  Outdoor Yoga  >  Dog Pose


Outdoor Yoga

By Neil Hartmann

Dog Pose


Ever wonder why dogs look so happy when they are stretching? Simply, it feels good.
OK, maybe not at first for humans new to the “dog poses,” but be patient and stick with it and you’ll understand why your dog is smiling.

Down Dog pose (Downward-Facing Dog)
First straighten from the elbow, then straighten the knees and make sure your heels touch the floor using both hands to strongly connect with the earth. Be sure to have your hands in alignment with your shoulders and hips and keep your neck and shoulders relaxed.

Benefits: Great stress relief and energizing exercise. Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands and strengthens the arms and legs.

Up Dog Pose (Upward-Facing Dog)
Stretch upwards by lengthening your elbows (only your palms and toes should be touching the ground).
Expand your chest upwards and outwards with a deep breath, then lengthen your neck without over stretching or forcing it.
Make sure to breathe deeply as you stretch and extend into the “up dog pose.”

Hold the breath and pose for a moment,
then as you exhale, lift the hips and push back into the “down dog pose,”
again momentarily holding the pose.
Do three sets or repeat as much as you like.    

Dogs do this pose many times a day, generally upon waking.
No one taught my dog "Zen" how to do the pose, but he loves it!
After watching him, I was better able to understand the inner workings of the pose.
If you don’t have a dog, stop by the local pet store for a quick yoga lesson from our furry friends!

Benefits: Improves posture, strengthens the spine, arms, wrists, buttocks and stretches chest and lungs, shoulders, and abdomen.