This video is part of our Foundations of Yoga series.
Watch on YouTube: Downward Facing Dog
Downward Facing Blog. My boyfriend thought of that. Not me.
Oh Downward Dog! Let me count the ways you have changed and continue to change. You are a shape shifter and a magical mirror.
Straight up: The day I fell in love with downward facing dog is the day I truly fell in love with Yoga.
Cue: Stevie Wonder’s “For Once In My Life”
I will never forget those early dog days of yoga practice. I remind myself of them every time I welcome a new student onto the mat. Does it ever really get easier? Well, yes and no. It really doesn’t because the check list just get longer and the pose juicer. But, your time and energy in DD do pay off. Eventually you begin to find ease. DD is a place to find ease. Maybe not at first but in addition to working on our [awesome] bodies we are here to practice life lessons. The lesson is that it may not be easy at first but practice and all is coming* and you will eventually find an honest way to marry the effort with the ease. You will move to a place where strength and grace can co-exist and chat for a bit. Downward dog is the perfect asana to have this conversation.
This posture is also just a class act full body stretch. This pose is perfect place for assessment. It helps us see things from a different angle. It is also an inversion so it is really classy and reverses the action of gravity so that your blood and lymph can flow in the opposite direction. For once in your life!
Slow and steady really wins the race on this one folks. Take your time. Pay attention to alignment but move in the posture. Dance! Keep it alive! For your own sanity! Place your hands mindfully. Bend your knees at first. Relax your neck and head. Melt your heart towards your thighs. Especially if you work in an office at a desk.
As I wrap this up I feel obligated to say- watch your dog. Seriously though, you should. If you have a dog or if you can borrow one for a day you should keep on the look out for this posture. My dog teaches me so much in his fine (mighty fine) display of the full body downward dog experience.
Give it a try. Stick with it till it becomes your best friend. Wink wink.
Benefits (get ready!)
- Full body stretch!
- Tones the arms and legs
- Elongates the back (No more Mr. Burns shoulders. Smithers!!)
- Builds strength in hands, wrists, shoulders
- Reduces anxiety and relieves stress
- Increases circulation
- Improves digestion
- Stimulates nervous system and can help with memory and concentration
- Helps prevent osteoporosis
- Great for flat feet!
- Quiets the brain and can help relieve mild depression
- Can help to relieve symptoms of menopause
- Therapeutic for high blood pressure
- Oh and you should read this.
- Bend your knees!
- Lift your heels up on a blanket
- Place hands on two blocks
- Practice a half dog at the wall if you suffer from carpel tunnel
- For menstrual relief or if you have high blood pressure rest your forehead on a block or two or a bolster pillow.
- To take some weight of the wrists you can try placing the base of the palms on a folded blanket or a fancy foam wedge. This opens the angle of the wrist. Press into your index finger and thumb firmly to continue to build strength.
- Skip this pose if you are suffering from diarrhea. Come back to it another day.
*Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (1915-2009)
Watch on YouTube: Downward Facing Dog
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