Can You Do Yoga If You Can’t Do The Downward Dog Pose?

Can you do yoga if you can't do the downward dog pose?

Downward dog has gained a reputation as one of the most well-known yoga poses, even making its way into pop culture references. As a result, even someone who has never practiced yoga in their life might know the about the infamous “downward dog.” So it’s natural to ask, “Can you do yoga if you can’t do the downward dog?” Well, yes!

Of course, you can! This pose is just one of the many poses you can practice in Yoga, including breathing exercises, meditation, and devotional chanting. So don’t sweat it! Like some people, you might totally dread this pose. As a yoga teacher, I can see some students physically brace themselves when I say, “Let’s move into the downward dog.” Even some yogis struggle with this pose.


For others, downward dog is their favorite go-to pose to calm and clear their mind and stretch their body. Others, like me, have grown to love it. When I first tried it, my wrists and shoulders ached and my hamstrings felt very tight. Now, I feel relaxed when I’m upside down and gently allowing my body to adapt to the pose.

What Is The Downward Dog Pose

The downward dog, which is known as Addho Mukha Svanasana in Sanskrit, is a foundational yoga pose and often used to interlink two poses. It is strenuous and requires strong upper and lower body strength to hold it. Regular practice of this pose helps to lengthen and strengthen your hamstrings, ankles, and calves. It strengthens your arms, wrists, and shoulders and your whole body gets a deep stretch. It is also considered a calming pose because your head is lowered, increasing the blood flow to the brain.


How Do You Do It

  1. Begin by resting on your hands and knees in the table-top position. Keep your knees hip-width apart under your hips, hands in-line with your shoulders, and fingers spread wide, pointing forward.
  2. Tuck your toes under and inhale.
  3. As you exhale, press your palms into the mat and slowly lift your knees off the floor, drawing your tailbone upward toward the ceiling, and straighten your legs.
  4. Stay high on your toes and lower your heels to the ground.
  5. Keep your head lowered and relax your neck and shoulders, creating space between your ears and shoulders. Focus on “easing your weight” onto your legs and heels and lengthening your spine. Breathe softly and deeply along the length of your spine and down your thighs to the ground. Your body should look like an upside-down V.
  6. To come out of the pose, relax and lower your knees back to the floor. Slowly transition into the next yoga pose.

A Few Insider Tips To Remember

  1. If your wrists ache or feel weak, spread your fingers wide to take the weight of your wrists.
  2. Keep your shoulders and feet hip-width apart for balance and support.
  3. Keep your knees bent if you suffer from lower-back pain and bring your legs closer to your body.
  4. Don’t worry if your heels don’t touch the ground! Just focus on your breath and find ease and grace in the pose.

Remember, as with all poses in yoga, take your time to find your sweet spot in the pose. Relax, breathe, and enjoy!