Improve your balance and stability, build core strength and more in Bird Dog Pose…
Bird Dog Pose (Dandayamana Bharmanasana) – also known as Balancing Table, Quadruped, or Hands-and-Knees Pose – is a great core-strengthening pose that is excellent for those who may be worried about falling in other balance poses. Since you’re already close to the ground, it’s easy to release and catch yourself if you start to lose your balance. Stabilizing exercises like this one are excellent as we age, as it is very important to maintain good balance as we move into our later years in order to avoid falls and injuries.
In addition to strengthening your core muscles, this pose also helps to stretch and strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, quads, legs, arms, and shoulders, so it’s a great all-over pose for both seniors and athletes or those recovering from an injury. Not only does it help to improve body awareness and posture, but it is also a great exercise to help improve low back function and is a gentle way help restore function after a back injury.
Be careful to keep a flat back and natural spine in the pose; don’t allow your spine to collapse downward or curve into Cow Pose. Keep your core and glutes engaged to maintain a neutral spinal position. Be sure to keep your shoulders down and away from the ears.
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If you are not able to maintain your balance in the full pose, practice extending just one leg at a time and keeping both hands on the floor. As you build stability, you can begin to lift the opposite arm as well. You may also wish to place a folded blanket under the knees for comfort.
While this is a very gentle pose, you should probably avoid this one if you have a current injury to your knees, shoulders, back, or hips. This is generally a great pose for pregnant women to help maintain balance and relieve back pain and stiffness, but you may wish to skip this one in the third trimester.
How to Do Bird Dog Pose:
- Come on to all fours with the wrists underneath the shoulders and the knees underneath the hips.
- Extend your right foot to the back of your mat and flex your foot.
- Lift your right leg up to hip level, keeping your hips squared towards the floor and your foot flexed.
- Lift your left arm up to shoulder level, keeping the arm straight. Point your thumb toward the ceiling as if you were going to shake someone’s hand or turn your palm to face the floor.
- Balance on the left knee and right hand, keeping the spine neutral and the neck long. Your gaze should be on the floor.
- Stay five to 10 breaths before lowering the lifted hand and knee. Spend a few breaths on all fours to get your solid foundation back, then do the pose on the other side.
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