My arms shake in Down Dog. Is this normal?

3 min read

So you’re in class, and your yoga teacher calmly and cooly guides you to “rest for a few breaths in Downward Facing Dog.” Seasoned yogis around you effortlessly pop up into a perfect upside-down V shape while your arms are like baby giraffe legs about to give out underneath you.

You’re probably wondering, “Since when is Down Dog supposed to be considered a resting position??” You’re not the only one who thinks this way. Suppose you’re wondering why your hands shake when doing Down Dog (you are not alone!

Why does this happen?

You may be experiencing shaking arms when playing Down Dog for several reasons:

Shoulder Joint Range of Motion

Shoulder joint mobility will be restricted if you have tight shoulders. Your biceps extend your arms overhead when you are in Down Dog. You need to be able to extend your arms 180 degrees fully. You’ll be in a position similar to a half-pushup if you’re unable to open your arms fully at 180 degrees.

Shoulder, chest, and upper back strength

In order to stabilize shoulders, your shoulder joint needs to be able to move in all directions. It would be best if you also had strong muscles in the shoulders, chest, and upper back. You must be able to maintain the position once you get your arms in that position.

Hamstring Flexibility

The yogi can push their hips up and back with flexible hamstrings. You’ll find yourself again in a position similar to a push-up if you don’t have this flexibility.

What is “normal” behavior?

Totally! If you lack any of the categories above, your Down Dog will be thrown off. This can cause your shoulders to carry an excessive amount of weight. Everybody’s body differs, and what you do away from yoga will determine your strength and anatomy.

Practice Tips and Modifications

You can modify each asana in infinite ways to suit your body. Try one or more modifications to make Down Dog comfortable to you as you increase your strength to prevent shaking.

Under your heels, place a blanket, towel, or block.

Under your hands, place a blanket, a towel, or a block.

If you have tight hamstrings, bend your knees.

Find your Plank Position, with your shoulders directly above your wrists, and then, without moving either your feet or your hands, return to the Down Dog.

There’s no need to remain in an uncomfortable pose. Take Child’s Pose when your body needs it.

You can prevent shaking by increasing your range of motion at your shoulder joints. Also, improve your chest and back strength, as well as your hamstrings.

I recommend that you practice a few other poses to help build strength and stability for Down Dog. These include the Puppy Dog and Dolphin position.

There are many ways to modify each asana to fit your body. Keep practicing!

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