Let’s take a closer look at what’s actually taking place in Downward Dog during your yoga class. First and foremost, the purpose of Downward-Facing Dog yoga pose is to lengthen the spine; followed by opening the backs of the legs as well as the thoracic spine (which is the space between the shoulder blades).
Down Dog is NOT meant to be a shoulder stretch—stop going after a strong sensation in your shoulder! And stop squeezing your shoulder blades onto your back. This can cause undue tension in the necks, traps and shoulders.
In order to keep your neck long and your traps free, a few things must happen:
If you are working your hands in Down Dog, spreading your fingers and rooting down through the inner edges of your palms, your shoulder blades are already on your back. You don’t need to squeeze them in toward your spine.
Instead, press through the palms and allow your outer shoulder blades to slide up your back. Then, broaden your collarbones and allow your neck to lengthen out of your shoulder girdle. No turtle necking.