When it comes to calf stretching, there are many exercises from which to choose. Downward Dog, of course, is well known as a calf stretch, but if you have really tight calves, you may find it quite difficult to get enough leverage on both calves at the same time to really make them lengthen. You might like to start with stretching just one at a time. With both feet fully on the floor, step one foot forward, gently bending the knee to come over the heel. Make sure that your back foot points straight ahead; otherwise, you’ll get an unbalanced stretch on the calf. (It’s helpful to actually look at your back foot: You may feel like it’s pointing straight ahead when it’s really pointing out to the side.) Then slide that foot back until you have a moderate stretch in the calf, but not so far that the heel comes off the floor. Actively press the heel into the floor to facilitate release and lengthening of the calf muscles. This is a good stretch to help you gain calf flexibility, because you can do it easily and often (it doesn’t require props) and you don’t have to bother getting down on the ground (you can even do it outside after walking). Now let’s see if you are ready to integrate a good deep calf stretch into your Downward Dog. Sometimes you can get more length in your calves in Downward Dog by initially lifting your heels high off the floor and then consciously releasing the calf contraction and easing your heels back down. This is a version of “contract-relax,” a stretching technique that takes advantage of the fact that it’s easier to release and stretch a muscle more deeply after contracting it.