Kids Yoga Pose of the Month: Downward Facing Dog

Posted on by Colleen Cash

Of all adult and kids yoga poses, downward facing dog may be the most well known. From my experience as a kids yoga teacher, I can tell you that Portland kids love Downward Facing Dog. And that’s great, since it’s is a highly beneficial pose. Downward dog strengthens the arms and shoulders while building flexibility in the hamstrings and length in the spine. But we find Portland kids typically pop into downward facing dog for another, very simple reason—they think it’s fun!

Downward facing dog is one of the most accessible poses in yoga. Portland parents can definitely direct their kids into this posture. Have your little yogini start on hands and knees. Ask them to tuck their toes underneath, and then lift their hips to the sky while straitening their legs. Tell your little one to use his or her arms to push back away from the mat. The head should be relaxed, and the heels melting toward the earth.

Here are a few kid-friendly variations on Downward Facing Dog:

Wag tail. Making fun animal sounds is a big part of a Portland kids yoga class! Take it one step further by telling your kid to wag his or her tail.

Lift leg and wag tail. In adult yoga, lifing a leg from Downward Facing Dog would take you into “Three Legged Dog.” Your child doesn’t need to know this, though—just ask them to lift one leg and wag it around like a longer tail. Don’t forget to wag both “tails” evenly—symmetrical movements on both sides of the body is best.

Inchworm. Ask your little asana master to imagine how an inchworm would move down a branch. Then create that shape with your bodies! Basically, you’ll be moving between high plank (i.e., the top of a push-up) and downward facing dog. (The down dog pose represents the moment when the inchworm is bunched up, with its middle section in the air, getting ready to extend forward.)

Because it’s a slight inversion (that is, the head is lower than the heart), Downward Facing Dog is a good pose for “resetting” situations and attitudes. However, like all inversions, downward dog pose can be invigorating, so it may not be the best pose to practice right before bedtime.

Photo: Chickpea

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Yoga For Kids in Portland, Oregon