[Pose Of the Week] Three-Legged Downward Dog Pose (Intermediate)

Build strength and flexibility and challenge your balance with Three-Legged Downward Dog Pose…

Three-Legged Downward Dog Pose (Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana – also known as Three-Legged Downward Facing Dog, Three-Legged Dog, or Down Dog Split) is a common variation on the popular Downward Facing Dog pose. In this beginner-to-intermediate variation, one leg is lifted backwards and up toward the ceiling, adding an extra challenge to both your strength and balance.

This pose has many of the same strengthening and stretching benefits as Downward Facing Dog pose, but with the added bonus of helping to open your hips and rib cage, while also working on your balance. It also has some additional strengthening and toning benefits for your hips, thighs, and backside.

Those with carpal tunnel syndrome, injuries to the back, arms, shoulders, and those with high blood pressure or eye or ear infections should skip this one. You should also avoid this one in the later stages of pregnancy.

How to Do It:

  • Begin on your hands and knees. Align your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. The fold of your wrists should be parallel with the top edge of your mat. Point your middle fingers directly to the top edge of your mat.
  • Stretch your elbows and relax your upper back.
  • Spread your fingers wide and press firmly through your palms and knuckles. Distribute your weight evenly across your hands.
  • Exhale as you tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor. Reach your pelvis up toward the ceiling, then draw your sit bones toward the wall behind you. Gently begin to straighten your legs, but do not lock your knees. Bring your body into the shape of an “A.” Imagine your hips and thighs being pulled backwards from the top of your thighs. Do not walk your feet closer to your hands — keep the extension through your whole body. This is Downward-Facing Dog.
  • Step both feet together. Then, with your arms and legs straight, inhale and lift your right leg straight back and up, high in the air. Flex your right foot and reach back through your heel.
  • Internally rotate your lifted leg so your knee and the top of your foot point down toward the mat. This will cause your right hip to lower slightly. Reach back further through your right heel and then draw up again through the back of your thigh.
  • Keep your standing leg strong and your shoulders squared to the top of your mat. Imagine that your hands and heels are aligned along one straight, diagonal line.
    • To open your hips even further, bend your right knee and lift it high toward the ceiling. Tilt your pelvis, drawing your right hip up. Lift your thigh high so that your right hip stacks directly above your left hip. Reach your right foot across the back of your body, as if you’re trying to touch your left ear with your right toes.
  • Press the floor away from you as you lift through your pelvis. Firm the outer muscles of your arms and press your index fingers into the floor. Draw your shoulder blades into your upper back ribs and toward your tailbone. Broaden across your collarbone.
  • Keep your standing leg firm. Sink your standing heel toward the floor.
  • Align your ears with your upper arms. Relax your head, but do not let it dangle. Gaze between your legs or toward your navel.
  • Hold for 5-20 breaths.
  • To release, exhale as you lower your right foot to the mat and place it next to your left foot. Repeat the pose on the opposite side.
Read more about the pose at YogaOutlet.com


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