Downward-Facing Dog Pose
Ahdo Mukha Svanasana
In an effort to get back to my love of yoga, which I first began to explore in my early twenties by taking some yoga classes, I've decided to challenge myself (and hopefully others out there) to practice yoga one pose at a time, one week at a time. Maybe this way I'll actually do it. I tend to get overwhelmed, and expect myself to be able to do to many things at once, and master things too quickly. Nothing gets accomplished that way, I find. Since having three babies, and some chronic issues with lower back and knee pain, I've seriously neglected my physical health as far as exercise goes. I feel like yoga is the best place to start for me, as it serves a duel purpose of physical and emotional/spiritual health. So here we go! This is a pose that I see my 10 month old son practice naturally all the time, as he learns to go from crawling to standing. He is my inspiration for choosing this pose to begin with.
This pose begins by coming onto your hands and knees onto your yoga mat, or in my case, floor or blanket. You want your hands to be shoulder width apart, slightly forward of your shoulders. Knees should be hip width apart. Tuck your toes under, and as you inhale, slowly lift your knees off the floor, and gently straighten your legs, taking care to keep knees slightly bent and heels slightly lifted at first. You don't want to get overzealous and pull a muscle right off the bat ( errr not that I've ever done that)! You also want to protect your lower back by tucking in your tailbone (use those core muscles). Your head should be in a neutral position between your arms, and neck muscles should feel relaxed.
Downward dog is one of those yoga poses that everyone is familiar with, yet it's one that I wanted to revisit due to it's whole body energizing, leg stretching, arm/leg strengthening, digestion improving properties. THIS source claims that it has therapeutic properties for sciatica, sinusitis, headaches, and even osteoporosis and menopause. So simple, yet so complex! That is yoga, isn't it?
As I practice this pose throughout the week, I'll be sure to update my observations and discoveries for this one asana. As always, I'd LOVE your feedback and suggestions as we work to integrate yoga into our lives. Namaste!
Update day #1:
I have to remind myself not to round out my upper back, and "shrug" my shoulders up towards my ears. Push those shoulders down and back. Also, engaging the quadriceps seems to provide an overall better stretch for the legs. I'm really feeling the stretch in my legs, and my upper arm and back muscles working!
This pose originally felt awkward and somewhat uncomfortable when I started at the beginning of the week. Now, however, my muscles actually seem to crave it!