Downward Facing Dog can be a difficult pose for many people. A modification for Downward Facing Dog is to bend knees and/or to do a Marching Downward Facing Dog, bending and then extending a knee.
If you focus on fascial connections, when you bend your knees in Downward Facing Dog, you are only effecting change in the upper portion of the Superficial Back Line (Anatomy Trains, Thomas Meyers page 72).
The Superficial Back Line (SBL), as defined by Thomas Meyers, is the direct fascial and muscular links connecting the bottom of your feet, up the back of your legs, up your back muscles, up the back of your neck, over the top of your head to end right above your eyebrows!
Excessive tightness in the SBL can create issues with:
Plantar fasciitis, hamstrings and calf cramps secondary to muscular tightness in these muscle groups, excessive lumbar lordosis stressing lumbar fascia joints and tension headaches.
Thus, if you have issues with plantar fasciitis, calf or hamstrings cramping it may be beneficial to do your Downward Facing Dog modified so that you are able to keep your knees straight. Please remember when stretching you need to be able to welcome the stretch in your body - do not over due it!
Modified Downward Facing Dog with knees straight can be accomplished by having your hands up on something. See picture below:
Modification number two is to put your heels up on something. See picture below:
Remember to press the fronts of your thighs to the back of your thighs to maintain knees extended - which is necessary to get the most out of stretching the fascia/muscles of the SBL. Allow the head to hang relaxed in between your arms, otherwise the suboccipitals will be tightening and effecting the frequency of tension headaches.
The Minimax is used for both of the modifications but yoga blocks can be used also.
Please check back weekly for interesting and practical facts regarding fascia/muscles and how stretching and or strengthening can have profound effects on your body. If you find the information helpful please share the information - thank you in advance! Sincerely, Martina