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Not All Down Dogs are Created Equal: Gettin' Down with Adho Mukha Svanasana

in Practice, YD News

downward facing dog

by Deborah Charnes

Poochy and Chester instinctively stretch their front paws forward,rear limbs back,arch and lengthen their furry torsos,and swoosh their tails.Frequently.

Yet Jack and Jill tend to be perma-hunchbacked in their soft-as-mashed-potatoes sofa watching the dumbo-tron,fingers glued to their smarter-than-human devices,with a bag of chips and can of soda on their laps.We must be in Kali Yuga.

Yogis know there's a solution to counteract the bad posture and habits so prevalent in the Poochy-eat-Chester world we live in.It's bouncing off the couch,和在垫子上。Gettin' down like the dogs.

Just as cuddly canines are man's best friend,adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog),is a yogi's BFF,even if we don't instinctively stick our butts in the air,and get our noses low to sniff out our territory.

Properly done,adho ukha seems to work out those Latin themed body parts: gluteus maximus,latissimus dorsi,transversus abdominus,soleus,tibialis anterior and erector spinae.No wonder this is a prime pose for the yoga medicus.

Yoga instructors may bark out general commands for downward facing dog."Heels down.Bottom up.Knees straight.Shoulders broad.Head low."

But here's the low down: all dogs are not created equal.Pomeranians,Poodles and Pugs shake and stretch their booties to a different beat.So should their masters.

While you can't teach an old dog new tricks,you can teach an old(er) student new ways to maximize the benefits of the asana.The mantra,"Yoga is a personal practice" can be exemplified with the many breeds of Down Dog.Here are a few helpful tips:

puppy

  • Folks withcarpal tunnel,orweight-challenges,need to protect the medial nerve.To alleviate pressure on the wrist,hang low in a Puppy or Downward Facing Dog on fists,or resting on forearms.
  • Fortight hamstrings,place those back paws a bit wider apart or with bent knees.
  • Terminator bodscan place hands a bit further apart,and point the fingers slightly outward.
  • For those withhyper-mobile macaroni elbows,keep a slight bend in the joint.
  • Get down with a Puppy,rather than Dog,to relax and stretch if your doc has given your spine a Latin name likekyphosisor severescoliosis.
  • Still looking to lift the booty?Elongate the spineby raising heels,with or without bent knees.
  • Just like dachshunds needs to watch their backs,students withlow back painshould try Hanging Dog to enhance the gravitational pull.
Hanging dog.

Hanging dog.

  • As an addedbenefit to the ladies,Judith Hanson Lasater says,"Hanging Dog pose helps to stimulate the pituitary gland,which can positively effect its release of hormones,thereby easing the symptoms ofperimenopause."
  • Ashtangis know that engaging the bandhas stimulatesenergetic flow and provides strength.Pointing the toes slightly inward is optimum for those withlong hamstrings.

Pretty much anyway you wag your tail in Down Dog you'll beactivating the bladder meridian,which affects pretty much everything from head to tail: insomnia,asthma,menstrual problems,IBS,anxiety,and more.

So no matter how you do your dog,just do it.

~

Deborah Charnes is a certified yoga teacher with advanced training in Ayurveda and yoga therapy.A member of IAYT,she ownsThe Namaste CounselandThe Write Counsel.She currently resides in San Antonio,Texas with Chester.Namaste y'all.

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5comments… add one
  • Susan

    appreciate the nuanced info here,Deborah.thanks!

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  • Suzi

    Love it!Thanks,Deborah/

  • Hey really such a amazing post dear.

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