6 ways to Modify Downward Facing Dog for Chronic Pain and Illness

I've talked repeatedly on Downward Facing Dog mainly because it is a great place to get started if you've never worked out or it's been years, are in chronic pain, and/or contemplating trying out yoga.

As I've stated before, Adho Mukha Savasana works the whole body, it tractions your back, opens up your hips and chest, stretches your entire leg through your toes, drains your lymph, and strengthens you.

I've also mentioned to start out slow, at 10 seconds and try for three, ten-second holds.  I've been doing yoga for over a year now and I'm finally up to 90 seconds without any modifications.

If you're not a chronic pain warrior but maybe you are healing from an accident, I also suggest starting out slow. Maybe 30 second holds three times if you are in pretty good shape.

I still can't quite get my feet to the floor though.  Almost there!

I didn't start out being a Down Dog bad ass, I had to work up to it, so I thought I'd share with you the modifications my yoga master gave me when I started my chronic pain journey back in January 2017.

6 ways to modify Downward Facing Dog for Chronic Pain and Illness

This was my first 'Down Dog' I was using straps, a chair, bolsters, and blankets!
1. Put your heels against the wall

Here I'm using tips 1 - 3.  My heels are against the wall.  My SI Joints are stabilized with 2 yoga straps and there's another strap holding my legs. Easy to do in the yoga studio but what about your house?

2. Use your yoga straps

Getting ready to brace the LEFT SI Joint.  I will slide the ring on top of the LEFT SI (it's over the right until I get the strap adjusted) or "dimple" and then pull the strap to the right to tighten.
I have issues with hypermobility so I frequently get tennis elbow or hurt my knees by hyperextending.  I belt my arms the length of my armpits to "brace" my elbows when it's actively hurting.  

I do the same thing just below my knees, except I'm using the width of my lower hip.

3. Get your front door involved

Grab your mat, 2 8 - 10 foot straps, a yoga block, and head to your front door.

Loop the straps together so they make one gigantic loop.  Place loop around the middle of your block.  Hang it from the top of your front door in the middle of the door. Close the door and deadbolt it. Pull on the block for tightness.

Now tighten up the straps until they reach the bottom of your hip line.

Go into Uttasana (Standing Foward Bend) and then work your heels back to the door and your hand forward.

Go into Downward Facing Dog.

To come out slowly walk your feet and hands in.

Place your hands on your hips and come up using your legs, not your back.

4. Place your head on a block

5. Grab a buddy

Sometimes when I'm working on getting my feet to the floor (it will happen someday!) I get #leohusband to gently push my hips back while he is standing in front of me. 

6. Put your feet on blocks

I know it doesn't look like I'm doing anything here, but I'm lifting my toes off the ground.  This engages the quad more.  Don't do this if you are a beginner. It's an advanced technique that if you've been doing yoga for a while...it's a good challenge to try.

My heel is at the edge of the block and after I get in the pose, I lift my toes off the ground.