Back to Basics: Three-Legged Down Dog Dissected

More than a transition, when practiced mindfully this pose prepares the body for Warrior III, Standing Splits, and Handstand. Get more out of it every time.
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More than a transition, when practiced mindfully this pose prepares the body for Warrior III, Standing Splits, and Handstand. Get more out of it every time.

Even if you could sail through Surya Namaskar in your sleep, we invite you to join us in revisiting the keystones of asana. Unlearn what you know, break your bad habits, and see if you can’t makeover your entire flow by re-focusing on a few foundational poses. Try an advanced approach to basic asana with SmartFLOW teacher trainer Tiffany Russo. Get #backtobasics with us all month on Facebook and Instagram.

This asana can come up a lot in a single vinyasa class. It often occupies the inhale between each Downward-Facing Dog and subsequent standing pose. You may spend a full cycle of breath here during Surya Namaskar. And your teacher may use longer holds in this pose as preparation for more challenging ones. But do you pay attention to how lifting that leg affects the rest of your body?

To get more out of this pose, the goal is to keep everything neutral when you lift your leg. If you keep your foundation exactly the same as in Adho Mukha Svanasana, this variation of it looks nearly identical from the front of the room. Even experienced students, however, tend to collapse into the standing leg side of the body, open their hip, shorten their side waist, and arch their back as soon as they lift a leg. But when practiced mindfully, integrating the actions below, this pose will make Warrior III, Standing Splits, and even hopping into Handstands much easier.