WQ: Why do yoga classes revolve around Downward Dog?
Ami: Here is the lowdown on Down Dog. It may make you like the pose a little more.
WQ: What does Down Dog even do?
Ami: Down Dog (Sanskrit, Adho Mukha Śvānāsana) has tremendous physical benefits with all the benefits of an inversion: feeding the brain oxygen, balancing neurotransmitters, alleviating mild depression and anxiety. It stretches and strengthens the arms, shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands. It improves digestion, helps with headaches, insomnia, back pain and fatigue, reduces high blood pressure, alleviates sciatica, sinusitis, flat feet, and asthma.
Downward Facing Dog with Hatha Yoga expert Elizabeth Rose (filmed by Randy Primm)
So the next time you are in down dog and wishing you weren't, reflect on the therapeutic benefits of the posture then breathe in a little deeper and allow it to heal!
WQ: How does one get into Down Dog?
Ami: One foolproof way is to start in plank pose, feet hip-distance apart, lift the hips, and drop the head. At first the distance may feel uncomfortable leaving you wanting to shorten the distance between hands and feet. Instead, be mindful of your hands. Are the fingers spread with fingertips and knuckles pressed into the mat so as not to dump weight into the wrists? The navel is pulled in an locked (uddiyanda bandha). Heels sink toward the floor with feet straight so that when you look back you are not able to see them. Shoulders pull away from the ears, neck is soft, head heavy and dangling. Slightly tuck the tail bone. Your focal point (drishti) is the navel, between the legs or, if you're feeling brave, the tip of the nose. (This stimulates and balances the pituitary, which is the master gland). Still think it's a pain in the fascia? Namaste, Ami
- TEACHER TRAINING: My 200-hour Yoga Alliance teacher training starts Tuesday, February 21st, 2012.
- See me in downtown Pasadena on Mondays at 7:00 pm, Wednesdays at 7:00 pm, Saturdays at 11:00 am, and at Glendale Super Sport on Thursdays at 5:30 pm.