Online Courses & Certifications ➡ Click Here To Get 50% Off!

Downward Dog: 5 Ways

You may have heard the quote, “Yoga is 1% inspiration and 99 % perspiration.” I like to do a spin off that and say kids yoga is 10% inspiration, 40% perspiration and 50% imagination! In looking for ways to stretch our conceptions of downward dog (literally and figuratively), I am going to offer a handful of ways to make this traditional pose more fun.

  • Dog digging a hole

Start in downward dog, then jump feet out wide as if coming into what I sometimes call pyramid pose (prasarita padottanasana). Spread fingers out into claws, swing hands forward and rake them back between the legs like a dog digging a hole. Coordinate the movement with the inhale: breathe in as hands and arms swing forward, breathe out as they rake backward.

  • Upward/downward dog swings

This is the same movement you find in sun salutations. Start in either downward or upward dog (or cobra to modify if it’s too tough to have hips off the ground). Let the breath in this one be audible! Come into downward dog and let out a woof! Then lower the hips into upward dog and howl at your imaginary moon (wild wolf!).

  • Dog breath

This one has nothing to do with bad breath! It’s more about how dogs breathe in different ways. You can pant: let your tongue hang out, relax the face and jaws and pant (not too fast!). Make sure not to hyperventilate by emphasizing slower panting and bring the focus to relaxing the jaw (think droopy-faced bull dog).

Some dogs howl, too! Take in a slow, deep breath and then on the exhale do a long howl. Try different pitches (high little yapper howls, big bellowing howls, etc…).

Then of course, there is barking. Inhale slowly for a count of 4, then let out 3 or 4 barks, using the belly to push the air out (think kapalabhati).

Finally, there’s sleeping dog breath. Show your little yogis a few ways dogs like to sleep – on their bellies with legs and feet tucked under or lying on their sides, for example – then lead them through a simple abdominal breath.

  • Upside down dog (Dandasana with arms raised)

When teaching yoga to adults, I often like to mention the relationship between different poses that call for the same basic shape. For instance, rag doll (uttanasana, or standing forward bend) is the same position as paschimottanasana (seated forward bend). For downward dog, I show how dandasana with arms raised is like an upside down downward dog. Exploring these types of relationships between postures helps bring appreciation of gravity and how it acts on the body.

  • Wall dog or partner dog

Speaking of gravity, doing ‘downward dog’ against the wall offers a way to practice the pose with minimal weight on the hands. This can also be done as a partner pose, which adds an element of pulling and counterbalance (two yogis hold hands, step back until the torsos are more or less parallel to the floor with hips above knees and ankles. To counterbalance, each yogi gently leans back, holding their partner’s hands firmly). This adds some decompression to the spine and arms that is the opposite of the weight that is born on these areas in traditional downward dog. In the “Yoga Pretzels” deck, there’s a variation of this called Rooftops – in this one, the torsos are not parallel to the ground.

I hope these ideas have sparked your inspiration to try different forms of downward dog with your yogis! Please feel free to use your own imagination to modify or add to what I’ve shared here. Channel your inner downward dog!

Like what you read here? There’s so much MORE to explore and learn with Kidding Around Yoga. Check out our website for our live and online teacher trainings, Yoga Alliance-approved 95-hour RCYT trainings, specialty online courses, original music, podcast, merchandise, and beyond! KAY even offers an online course designed to make yoga, breathing and mindfulness part of your family’s daily routine (KAY in the Home).


Recent Posts

Browse by Category

Mindful Conversations Podcast

Join hosts Kristi Fischer and Kelly Winkler, Kidding Around Yoga trainers, moms, and educators, for some lighthearted and insightful conversations, where we take a deep dive into all things Kids Yoga and mindfulness.

Check out our podcast!

Mindful Conversations with KAY is a podcast for anyone who works with children. We cultivate conversations to help parents, educators, yoga teachers, mental health professionals, and more.

Related Posts

Animal Sound Salutations

Almost any young child loves to imitate animal sounds and behavior. Luckily, there are so many yoga postures with animal names that creating songs and stories about animals is easy! I decided to try incorporating animal sounds into a sun salutation and came up with...

read more
Brain Breaks

Brain Breaks

EP. 46 | The Power of Brain Breaks: Giving the brain a rest allows for increased learning Show Notes There's SO much for kids to learn in such a short amount of time. It's best to just keep going, powering through lessons and homework, right? NO! Science shows...

read more
Mindful March

Mindful March

We've all heard about the benefits of meditation practice, but how do we start, especially with kiddos? Kidding Around Yoga is here to help! We've created this 30-day MEDITATION CALENDAR to provide you and your family (or your school classroom) with a daily meditation...

read more

Bringing Mindfulness into the Classroom

Watch at your leisure!


Relaxation & Meditation for Kids

Watch at your leisure!