DOWNWARD FACING DOG is one of the shining stars of SUP yoga poses. On shore or in the studio, this is a very grounding posture. In SUP yoga, down
dog is a magic carpet ride! The physical aspect of down dog creates space in the back body, while the spiritual focus allows our mind to quiet and our hearts to sing. Gazing out at the water from this position is absolutely amazing and the sun warming your back creates a long line of energy from your palms to the soles of your feet. Feel the freedom to create your own personal downward facing dog. Adjust, modify and linger here — this pose activates and stimulates every muscle fiber in your body. Begin with a warm up paddle of twenty or thirty minutes to get your heart rate up and find your pace on the water. Anchoring your board is important for safety and reduces distractions.
Begin in a standing position with a wide grip on your paddle. Lengthen through your torso and obliques. Activate your quads and keep your knees soft, not locked.
With your abdominals engaged, fold forward, maintaining a loose grip on the paddle. Allow your hamstrings to warm up here as your torso hangs forward from the hips like a rag doll. This inversion brings fresh, oxygen-rich blood to your brain, revitalizing the nervous system. Let the back body start to awaken here.
After a few deep breaths in this rag doll variation, glance up and lower your hips, knees bent. Keep your knees bent and power up your core as you take a deep squat, reaching forward and placing your paddle toward the nose of your board.
Set your hands shoulder width apart and adjust your position on your board. The center handle hold or “sweet spot” should be directly under your navel. Drop your head and take a moment to just breathe and be. Rock the board from side to side a little to gain some trust in the stability of your board. Then take some time to check in with your alignment and personalize your down dog. Start with your palms and press through all ten fingers to alleviate the pressure on the heels of your hands. Elbows are soft, biceps, triceps and deltoids are actively engaged. Hug in with your lower ribs and engage your abs. Keep your breath spilling free and easy through your nose. Tilt your tailbone to the sky and spiral your thighs back and apart. If your hamstrings are resisting, keep your knees bent and know that your heels don’t have to touch the board. Linger here in this fluid inversion, meditating on one or all of these aspects of your yoga practice: the breath, the sky, the horizon, the movement of the water underneath you, the birds, or ocean sounds, the clouds or color of the sky. It’s a timeless meditative zen that is authentically you.