Many people have a fixation on getting their heels down, flat to the floor, when doing the pose, adds Di Giorgio. “Forget putting your heels on the floor,” he says, “this is advanced work!”
While placing the heels down firmly gives a good grounding in the pose, Di Giorgio says this is more like a “cherry on the cake”.
“Over months and years, as hamstrings and calves lengthen then students should strive to get the heels down but not at the expense of compromising the spine.”
It’s important to look after hands and wrists which, over time, can cause injury. “Some tend to lean heavily on the wrist bones which are not designed to bear weight, leading to potential repetitive strain injuries,” says Di Giorgio.
“They should try to spread the palms and fingers and press them strongly into the mat. This forces the forearm muscles to be more active and offloads the wrist bones.”
If you’re finding the pose difficult, keep in mind you can tailor it to your abilities. “You might not be as able-bodied or want to throw yourself into such a dramatic stretch, but there are alternatives like the puppy pose, which is the downward dog, but on the knees,” says Annand. “It’s a little more gentle.”
There are also options to make it more advanced. “Try more broadening of the shoulders and opening of the armpits and chest, so that the lungs can remain open and free whilst keeping the neck passive,” suggests Di Giorgio.
“The abdomen and pubic area should be more lifted and toned as the waist lengthens much more. Work the calves and ankles harder to ground the heels without compromising the extension of the spine.”
Move celebrates exercise in all its forms, with accessible features encouraging you to add movement into your day – because it’s not just good for the body, but the mind, too. We get it: workouts can be a bit of a slog, but there are ways you can move more without dreading it. Whether you love hikes, bike rides, YouTube workouts or hula hoop routines, exercise should be something to enjoy.