To celebrate National Yoga Month, each day we will feature a pose that you can practice at home or just give some special attention to in your yoga class. Today’s lucky pose? Downward Facing Dog, also known as Adho Mukha Svanasana or more commonly, down dog.
Downward Facing Dog is the signature pose of yoga. Even people who don’t practice yoga have probably heard this word. It is likely that if you go to a yoga class you will hear this word dozens of times!
It’s part of the warm up sequence or sun salutations. In addition to being part of this widely known and often practiced ritual, downward facing dog has many roles and responsibilities. It serves as an assessment pose, transitional pose, resting pose, strengthening pose and inversion pose.
You might hear your yoga teacher spouting out benefits of this omnipresent pose throughout class. We trust our well trained yoga teachers but do we really know why downward facing dog is so good for us?
It has to do with meridians, acupuncture points. Downward facing dog stimulates the bladder meridian, or bladder channel, the longest channel in the body. It has 67 acupuncture points that run from the inner eye, up and over the head, down the entire spine and posterior leg, along the side of the foot and ending at the pinkie toe! Acupuncturists believe that a couple of these points are responsible for some very important organ function and therefore activating and increasing energy flow throughout them can alleviate just about any chronic disease.
HOW DO TO DOWNWARD FACING DOG:
How do you do it? I thought you’d never ask! Simply come onto all fours, in the hands and knees position. Curl the toes under to come onto the balls of the feet. Press the hands down as you lift your hips upward, straightening the legs and pressing the heels back into the mat like an upside down V-shape.
WHY TO DO DOWNWARD FACING DOG:
1. Boosts energy
2. Eliminates back pain
3. Improves circulation
4. Strengthens the immune system
5. Builds upper body strength
6. Increases flexibility in the hamstrings
Some teachers will tell you to pedal the feet, or ‘walk the dog.’ Try this pose today. Practice with deep inhales and full exhales through the nose for maximum results!
Photo – shutterstock.com
Jenn Bodnar is co-founder of Yoga Digest Magazine and has a genuine belief that yoga can benefit everyone. She is 200ERYT having attended multiple teacher trainings, facilitating yoga teacher trainings and studying and practicing yoga since 1999. Jenn is an avid fitness professional, who has taught and managed group fitness for many years. As a former competitive triathlete, gymnast and dancer Jenn loves the balance of strength, flexibility, perseverance and freedom that a yoga practice provides. She loves being active and outdoors with her family and friends. Jenn is a self proclaimed health food chef who hopes to leave a positive footprint by inspiring others to always choose happiness. “Watching people grow through yoga is one of the most amazing miracles to witness.”