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exercise of the month

Inverted V - Downward Dog

February 2021

Aim

This universally recognised yoga pose opens out the back of the body, strengthens the shoulders and scapula stability and core stability. 

Starting Position

Come onto all fours, in a four-point kneeling position, with the knees under the hips and the hands just slightly in front of the shoulders.  Spread the fingers wide, pressing the bases of the index fingers along with the web of skin between forefinger and thumb into the mat.  Tuck the toes under.

Action

Inhale to prepare and then exhale to lift the knees off the floor, raising the hips in the air, into an inverted V position.  Release the sitbones into a neutral position, so the tailbone does not tuck under.  Straighten the knees as much as possible and try to get the heels as close to the floor as is manageable.  The ears should be positioned in between each arm to prevent the head from hanging.  Hold pose for up to five minutes.

Target Muscles

Stretches the hamstrings, gastrocnemius, soleus, lower back.  Strengthens shoulders and upper back

Watchpoints

Maintain a long straight spine, as this is more important than having straight legs, so bend the knees if necessary, to avoid the back rounding

Draw the torso away from the groins, keeping the length in the front of the torso

Spiral the upper arm outwards and the lower arm inwards to ensure shoulders are placed in the best position

Lift the sitbones up towards the ceiling, to maintain a neutral spine

Ensure good core stability to prevent the ribs from flaring (which makes the back arch)

Ensure the shoulders don’t hunch and maintain length in the back of the neck

The weight should be distributed evenly between the two feet

Contra Indictions

Modifications

For those with any wrist problems, come off the hands and down onto the forearms instead

Knees may be bent slightly for those with really tight hamstrings

This pose can be performed with the heels against a wall for stability and support.  It can also be practised facing the wall with the hands on the wall (torso parallel to the floor) in order to practice the arm spiral.

Place each hand on a block or on the seat of a chair if shoulder flexibility is limited

Loop a yoga strap around the upper arms (just above elbows)

This can be performed with the hands resting on a yoga chair for those with any shoulder issues

For an extra challenge, raise the right leg behind in the air, following the diagonal alignment of the torso

 

Contraindications

This may be unsuitable for those with certain back problems (particularly disc related issues).  This is unsuitable for those with osteoporosis, if the spine is in a flexed position.  Urge caution for those suffering from headaches or migraines.  Urge caution for those with those with wrist problems or shoulder injuries. This is unsuitable for those with blood pressure issues, heart problems or glaucoma.

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March 2021

Emma Newham gives you the low down on the Long Stretch and Reverse Long Stretch Push Up exercise on the Gym Ball in this step by step video tutorial guide

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