Free Downloadable Doga Yoga Lesson Plan With 30 Variations Of Downward Facing Dog Pose…Plus My 9 Steps For Teaching The Class


This free, downloadable yoga lesson plan with called: “Doga: 30 Variations Of Downward Facing Dog Pose” was created using the Drag & Drop Yoga Genie Planner. It’s just one of 3000+ shared, editable, downloadable yoga lesson plans within the Planner. I hope you like it.


9 Teaching Steps


Step 1
Download The Free Yoga Lesson Plan


Doga: 30 Variations Of Downward Facing Dog Pose | PDF Long Version

Doga: 30 Variations Of Downward Facing Dog Pose | PDF Short Version


This Downward Facing Dog themed yoga lesson plan has a whopping 30 variations and modifications for Downward Facing Dog Pose – ordered by level of difficulty.


Step 2
Download The Free Yoga Class Handout


Downward Facing Dog Handout | PDF


This is 1 of 250+ yoga class handouts included as a bonus within the Yoga Teacher Lesson Plan Kit. With this epic bonus, you’ll be able to download an MS Word Document with 450+ pages of yoga class handouts. It’s taken me years to create this document. They include all the “yoga class handouts” that I’ve created for my own yoga classes over the years. And the best part is that you’ll be able to edit every single one of the handouts. For example, you might want to put your logo on the handouts, or edit the descriptions a bit to add your own style. Your students will love receiving them.


Step 3
Teach Sanskrit


Sanskrit: Adho Mukha Svanasana

Don’t be afraid to teach your students the Sanskrit, but make sure you make it fun to learn.

How is that possible you may ask?

Well, I do it by using the same memory tricks as the memory champions. All you need to do is associate the Sanskrit name with a bizarre story. The more bizarre you can make the story, the better it is for the memory.

Here’s how I ask my students to remember Adho Mukha Svanasana is the Sanskrit for Downward Facing Dog….

“Imagine you’re about to head off to work and you start singing “I ho, I ho it’s off to work we go” (triggers your mind to remember adho). Then someone throws muck (triggers your mind to remember  mukha) all over your car.  There’s so much muck that you can’t see out of your window screen and almost run over a beautiful white swan (triggers your mind to remember svan). You’re so stressed that you get out of the car in the middle of a busy road and perform Adho Mukha Svanasana. 


Step 4
Teach Symbolism


Here are some Downward Facing Dog symbolism you can bring up during the class:

  • Fetch (what games have you played recently?)
  • Friendship
  • Focus
  • Fun
  • Letting go of the past (e.g. a loud telling off)
  • Licking (or “kissing” for us humans)
  • Living in the moment
  • Loyalty
  • Play
  • Service

Step 5
Teach Philosophy


During the class you could say something like…

When practicing one or more of the 30 Downward Facing Dog variations, ask yourself one of the dog philosophy mantras. The mantra will help you tune into dog power.

Dog Philosophy Mantras

I call upon dog power for one pointed focus.”

“I call upon dog power to find more time for fun.”

“I call upon dog power to prioritise fun today.”

“I call upon dog power to become a champion of service and find ways to be of service to my friends, family and community?”

“I call upon dog power to be aware when a friend or family member is in need, so that I can reach out and be of service to them?”

“I call upon dog power to take myself less seriously and wag my tail for no reason in particular…just to celebrate life.

“I call upon dog power to enjoy the moment.”


Step 6
Teach Benefits


Downward Facing Dog is the most popular yoga pose for most yogis.

And with good reason.

Downward Facing Dog creates space within your spine for healing light to pour through. And if that’s not good enough to get chipper about, it also: stretches & opens shoulders, calms the nervous system, stimulates abdominal organs & thyroid gland, helps relieve symptoms of menopause, reduces stress & fatigue, therapeutic for backache, headache, infertility, insomnia & sinusitis, tones arms, sculpts thighs, and will set the entire backside of your body free.

Not bad for ONE pose, heh!

If you simply list out the benefits to your class, you’ll bore the socks off your students. That is of course, if they had any on. The way to spice up the benefits is to become a poet and use imagery words and phrases.  Here are some examples…

The Traditional Way
Downward Facing Dog is good for the spine.

The Imagery Way
Downward Facing Dog creates space within your spine for healing light to pour through.  

The Traditional Way
Downward Facing Dog stretches the hamstrings

The Imagery Way
Imagine a hook attached to your sacrum which is on a pulley attached to the ceiling. Well, that’s what’s happening to your body when you practice Downward Facing Dog Pose. 

Here are 101 yoga imagery phrases to help your classes become more memorable to your students.


Step 7
Teach Precautions


If you’ve given each of your students a Student Questionnaire (there are 2 student questionnaires within Yoga Teacher Lesson Plan Kit) and have taken the time to become familiar with each of your student’s health issues, you can give them precautions and modifications as you walk around the class observing.

Most new teachers stay rooted to their mats when they teach a class because it feels safe.

A rule of thumb is that you should be off your mat more than you’re on it.

Precautions:

  • High blood pressure
  • Pregnancy
  • Headache

Step 8
Teach Modifications & Variations


Download the lesson plan (top of this page) for the 30 variations and modifications of Downward Facing Dog Pose.

Here are a few variations…

Bend knees
One of the great things about yoga is that modifications open the doors to yoga to students of all abilities. When you modify Downward Facing Dog, the physical focus is on lengthening the spine and opening up your upper back. That means you get the same benefits from bending your knees as you would with straight knees (the only difference is that you wouldn’t get such a deep stretch for the hamstrings. 

Bend knees & block
Bend knees and rest each hand on a a yoga block. 

Puppy Pose
Come onto knees into Extended Child Pose (a.k.a Puppy Pose) and finish in Child Pose.  

Use a chair
Your class will almost certainly have more than one student with a tight hamstrings.  Here’s a great modification to give them.   Ask students to practice Downward Facing Dog by putting their hands on a chair (instead of the mat).  The chair will allow the student to straighten their legs and get a good hamstring stretch in while keeping a long, straight spine.   However, make your students aware that they don’t limit themselves to only using chairs.   For example, they could also use a sofa, table,  bed, kitchen sink and wall. The higher the prop, the more your students will be able to straighten their legs (hamstring stretch) while still maintaining the long, straight spine that is the core of Downward Facing Dog.     

Use a wall
Your class will also have one or two students who have wrist or shoulder injuries.   Ask them to practice Downward Facing Dog using a wall as a prop.  


Step 9
Teach Downward Facing Dog


Here are some quick teaching tips for Downward Facing Dog Pose…

Tip #1 | Knees Bent

New students with stiff backs and legs don’t need to try and force their legs to be straight.   The huge effort it takes to straighten the legs pushes way too much weight forward onto their hands which has the knock on effect of dropping their hips too low.  So, when observing students who are struggling to straighten their legs, tell them it’s OK to BEND their legs.   This ‘bending’ will help the spine to extend down from the hips and place 80% of the weight on the feet instead of  the vulnerable hands…and now the classic Downward Facing Dog form will appear.

Tip #2 | Weight on Feet

Ask your students to be aware where most of their weight is being placed.  Most beginner students will pile 80% of their weight onto their hands. This is a big NO, NO.  The hands have wee little bones in them which means putting too much weight on them can cause injury.    Instead, 80% of the weight needs to be focused onto the feet.

Tip #3 | Use hands to push weight back onto feet

The name of the Downward Facing Dog game is to get as much weight off your hands as possible and as much weight into your feet as possible. That’s done by using your hands to push the weight onto the feet.

Tip #4 | Vary the stance

Ask your students to vary the width and length (more distance between hands and feet) of the stance.

Tip #5 | Puppy Pose

Ask your students to perform puppy pose (Downward Facing Dog on knees) and then Downward Facing Dog. Ask them to be aware of the stretch going on in their backs during both poses. If the Puppy pose stretch feels similar to Downward Facing Dog, they are getting the benefits of the pose.

I hope you enjoyed this Downward Facing Dog teaching script.


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George Watts

BWY Yoga Teacher at George Watts Yoga
This post was lovingly morphed into reality by BWY yoga teacher, George Watts. If you're looking for a treasure trove of yoga lesson planning goodness, take a quick peek at Yoga Teacher Lesson Plan Kit.
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