Transcript of: Is it okay to adjust the feet in downward dog?
Hey everybody! Welcome to this month’s question of the month. If you’ve got a question that you want me to answer, go to yoganatomy.com/myquestion. Put in your question. We’ll review it. We’ll answer it on video just like I’m doing today. And don’t forget to subscribe to the channel so you get notifications about when these videos come out. Alright, this month’s question comes from Jen and it’s about how to adjust the feet in downward dog.
“My question concerns the movement when flipping your feet from upward facing dog and going into downward facing dog. Is it okay to drag your feet in, or is this a giant no-no? I had an instructor tell me that I should not pull my feet in but should walk them in to get the proper distance in down dog. I would imagine the only body type that could simply flip their feet and be the perfect distance would be someone with a VERY open back. Personally, I switch between the two but would love to hear feedback from you.”
Alright. I love “shoulds.” Basically, “a giant no-no” is “should not do that.” I’ve heard teachers say you should never walk your feet in down dog. Wherever you get to, that’s where you’re supposed to be. I’ve heard the opposite, which is what you’re describing. Don’t drag your feet in so they end in the perfect spot. Honestly, I have no idea why it would matter if you stepped the feet in or you dragged them in to get them into a good position for you when you adjust the feet in downward dog. I don’t think this is the deal breaker. Honestly, in that sense, I kind of have no answer, but we can talk about what the differences might be.
Spinal flexibility in upward dog
You’re right. One part of it is simply how flexible somebody’s spine is in the backward bend of upward facing dog. But, I always go back a step further, which is back to chaturanga or even high plank. What is the distance between your hands and your feet? That determines—when you roll over your toes and then roll back over them—where you end up in down dog. So, depending on how flexible you are in, as you say your spine, that’s going to change how close your feet can be. The less flexible your spine is, typically, your feet are going to be a little further away. And you may have to walk them in to adjust the feet in downward dog, or come up with a creative way for them to get pulled in. So part of this is the spine and the flexibility of the backbend.
The other issue is proportions. Long torso, short legs change how down dog is set up compared to something like up dog. I think the more important part is how you generate movement and transition. Like, are you pulling yourself from your ankles to switch and then adjust the feet in downward dog? That to me is not a—it’s not a no-no—but we want to work towards being able to draw ourselves up from our core, or our psoas, so that we’re moving from the center of our body outward. This is what’s more important to me. Whether you step them forward to adjust the feet in downward dog, or you drag them forward, or you slid them forward as you lifted your hips up—I have no idea why that would matter, which way you choose to do that, from a big yoga picture. I really have no answer for that.
They might have very valid reasons why they don’t like to see that and why it’s a “giant no-no.” Whether it’s true or not, I can’t say. I hate answering questions about what other teachers say because I don’t know how they got there. What is their own experience? What kind of students do they work with? They might have very valid reasons. It doesn’t mean that I’m going to agree with them.
But you’re asking me more from the objective anatomical point of view. I don’t think it matters. What matters is how you move from that place. How you get from up dog to down dog is much more important than whether your feet have to be stepped forward or whether you were able to slide them forward enough.
Alright? I hope that helps a little bit. If you’ve got a question that you want me to answer, go to yoganatomy.com/myquestion.
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