Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed the first part of this dreaded down dog blog, where I shared some useful information about the shoulder girdle/complex and the importance of keeping it as stable as possible.
Now, back to business. DD is not a resting pose. DD is dandasana, staff pose, shoulders in flexion, (arms overhead), fingers reaching, crown of the head reaching, heels reaching, legs working, spine in “perfect” neutral and so much more. Have you tried that lately? For five full breaths? I have. I don’t want to hold it for 108 breaths. Although, it would be fun to work up to that.
Consider other resting pose options for yourself and your students: Table top. Child’s pose. Half dog at the wall. A chair version. Standing in tadasana. I encourage the students in my class to explore other poses.
As I said previously, one of my go-to warmups for the shoulders is called Shoulder Flossing. It is super easy, and if you maintain good posture while flossing, you will gather a lot of valuable information about your true shoulder range of motion. If shoulder flossing bothers you and/or students in your class, I would find out why, and consider not spending a lot of time in DD. I sometimes challenge myself to teach classes down dog free or no more than one breath in down dog. It’s fun to get creative! External rotation, flexion, depression, protraction, co-contracted internal and external rotators is the optimum positioning for poses like DD, handstand, forearm stand, et cetera. For stability, mobility and woofability, get your shoulders set. It’s a lot of work, it’s not restful, but it’s crucial to avoid impingement and shoulder injury. There’s so much to this complicated pose. Always keep learning. Stay out of the dog house.