Come into Downward Facing Dog. Lift left hand and reach it beneath torso and around to right thigh. Allow waist and torso to twist open to the right. Place left hand on ground to outside of right foot. If that is not possible, rest hand on outside of right shin or upper thigh. Turn head to look underneath right arm. Gaze up. Hold. To release un-twist and return left hand to mat. Come back into Downward-Facing Dog. Repeat on other side.
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 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 is some Downward Facing Dog symbolism you can bring up during the class:
Fetch (what games have you played recently?)
Letting go of the past (e.g. a loud telling off)
Licking (or “kissing” for us humans)
Living in the moment
Step 5: Teach Philosophy
During the class, you could say something like…
When practicing one or more of the 30 Downward Facing Dogvariations, 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 forfun.”
“I call upon dog power to prioritizefuntoday.”
“I call upon dog power to become a champion of serviceand find ways tobe 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 andwag my tailfor no reason in particular…just to celebrate life.
“I call upon dog power to enjoy the moment.”
Step 6: Teach Benefits
Downward Facing Dogis the most popular yoga pose for most yogis.
And with good reason.
Downward Facing Dogcreates 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 Dogis 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.
If you’ve given each of your students a Student Questionnaire (there are two student questionnaires within theYoga Genie Lesson Planner) 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.
High blood pressure
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 Downward Facing Dog With Bent 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 yoga block.
Use A Chair Your class will almost certainly have more than one student with 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 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.
Here are some quick teaching tips for Downward Facing Dog Pose…
Tip 1 | Knees Bent
Downward Facing Dog With Bent Knees: 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 okay 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 of 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 on the feet.
Tip 3 | Use hands to push the 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.
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.