Stepping to Lunge From Down Dog: Tips for Yogis With Larger Bodies


Ever tried to step through to lunge and discover that your foot got stuck midway?

While “step forward into lunge from down dog” is a common instruction in vinyasa classes, it’s not necessarily an easy transition for everyone—and it can be especially difficult for larger bodied yogis because our breasts and bellies often get in the way.

But with the help of props and a few useful alignment tips, this transition can become far more accessible.  

How to Avoid Getting Stuck

When our foot gets stuck midway, our solution is often to grab and drag the foot forward to the top of the mat. While this is not wrong, it can feel clunky or awkward, and it can disrupt the flow of your practice. Here are a few other options.

Option 1 Instead of grabbing your foot when it gets stuck and dragging it toward the top of your mat, create more space before stepping forward by lifting your leg up behind you and then shifting the hips forward as you step through.

We’ll practice this transition from down dog by starting first in table pose. Set your hands nice and wide so that the outer edges of your shoulders line up with the center of your wrists, and the center of your wrists intersect with your peace fingers. Align the creases of your wrists parallel to the top end of your mat. Spread your fingertips wide, and root down through the knuckles and pads of your fingers. Then curl your toes under and lift your hips into down dog.

Now in downward facing dog, walk your feet back as far as you’d like. There’s no rule that says you can’t go bigger, and I invite you to try it. Keep a slight bend in your knees as you lift up your inner armpits, root down through your heels, and press down firmly with your hands.

In down dog, you can get a feel for the motion of shifting your hips forward as you transition to lunge by shifting your shoulders forward with both feet remaining on the mat (as you would if you were transitioning from down dog into plank, but without actually transitioning fully into plank); your hips will follow. Once you know what it feels like to bring the hips forward, transition back to down dog. Lift one leg up, and again shift your shoulders (and thus your hips) forward as you step your foot through.

Tip: Stepping your foot out wide toward the outer edge of your mat can help you make room for your breasts, belly, and thighs during the step-through. Once you’re there, you can walk your foot in closer to center if you’d like.

Option 2: Find More Space by Using Blocks Using blocks in down dog can create even more space for your step-through because the blocks will position your torso farther above the mat. Using props can also make it easier to step your foot closer to the center of the mat (as opposed to the outer edge). You can use this option in combination with option 1.

Option 3: Lower Your Knee Last but not least, the next time you’re asked to step your foot forward from down dog, you can simply lower one knee to the mat and step the opposite foot forward. See if this variation makes the transition even more accessible for you.

Yes, You Can Step Through!

You may enjoy playing with all three of these variations, or perhaps you’ll discover that you prefer one step-through variation more than the others.

The next time you’re on the mat, either in the studio or at home, I hope you feel empowered to make this transition work for your unique body, and your unique practice.

About the Teacher

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Dianne Bondy
Dianne Bondy is a social justice activist, author, accessible yoga teacher, and the leader of the Yoga... Read more