Head Alignment in Downward Dog

Ask three different teachers how to align your head in Downward Dog and you’ll likely get three different answers. No wonder practitioners everywhere are confused!

I believe there is never one “right” answer or one “correct” alignment. However, there will be an alignment that is best for you and your body, and it may change from day to day. As always, take what I, or any teacher, says into your practice, apply it and see if it works. If not, discard it. If it works, incorporate it. Your teachers are your guides, but personalizing your alignment is a fantastic way to be responsible for your own well-being and empower yourself.

That said, I will tell you how I practice Adho Mukha Svanasana, with respect to head alignment.

The Tadasana Principle.

Try to replicate the alignment of a neutral or Tadasana spine in every pose. This includes your head and neck, so make your head an extension of your spine.

Ears In Line with Upper Arms.

Keeping your ears in line with your biceps is a good rule of thumb for most practitioners. As you get deeper in the pose, though, your head will actually go to the ground and will no longer be able to align with your upper arms. Note: If you are practicing head to the floor, make sure to get your head down by bending in your upper back and lengthening your stance not by collapsing in your shoulders.

Length Through Your Crown

Extend your spine so that you lengthen out through the top of your head. When you do so, stretch from the root of your neck, located in the center of your chest, near your heart.

Soft Eyes

As in all poses, keep your eyes relaxed but open. Its o.k. to close them sometimes — it will make it easier to connect with yourself — but don’t get into the habit of doing every pose with your eyes closed.