3 Yoga Drills to Help With That Tricky Transition From Downward Dog to Lunge

You may have your yoga poses down, but the transitions between them can be just as important when doing a flow. If you find yourself falling out of the movement or struggling to execute the transition smoothly, you're not alone.

Yoga instructor Shona Vertue took to Instagram to share her advice for smoothing out a common transition that people struggle with — the step-through from Downward Dog to a lunge.

To find out why people get tripped up by this seemingly simple move, I spoke to YogaToday instructor Devin Bailey — who also filled me in on how Vertue's tips actually help.

For Bailey, it ultimately comes down to intentionality and not rushing through the movement. She said she sees her students struggle with this all the time, and she even has herself.

"When I fall out of my own asana (physical yoga pose) practice, I usually have a tough time regaining this ability not only because I lost strength or flexibility, but because I lost touch with my intentional movement," Bailey said. The moves in Vertue's video help by training the body to move more slowly rather than explosively.

Vertue's first drill in the Instagram post is protraction push-ups, which Bailey said build range of motion and control in your shoulders. "You can think of it as pushing the floor away from you to create room for the foot to step through," Bailey explained.

Next, Vertue demonstrates tiger curls with as much shoulder protraction as possible to keep the shoulders active and engage the core. This, Bailey said, trains your core, hip flexors, and hamstrings to keep your knee and heel pulled up as you bring your leg to the front of the mat.

Finally, Vertue does single-leg bent-knee V-ups with a knee extension to train "the abdominals to pull one knee in while the other is extended long," according to Bailey.

In addition to these drills, there are a couple of things you can keep in mind to improve your transition from Downward Dog to lunge, or any other poses, for that matter. Above all, remember to move with your breath. "If [your breath] is short and quick, then, most likely, that is how you are moving," Bailey advised. "So take the time to smooth your breath and move with it synchronistically."

Bailey also suggested imagining that you are moving through wet sand or thick honey if you have a hard time slowing yourself down: "You may be surprised at how much strength you can gain by moving slow."

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