I love a good dog
Although Adho Mukha Svanasana, aka downward dog, is synonymous with yoga, I took a while before I introduced this asana (pose) to my beginners as it is quite challenging. Yes, in yoga studios it is considered a resting pose like child's pose, but intuitive it isn't.
It took me months before I could do it correctly. My heels wouldn't touch the floor, my wrists hurt and I wasn't focusing on my breathing and how it could help me move further into the pose. That was some time ago. I am now thankful I can do it as I find it calming and I appreciate it's benefits. Below are a few.
1. Enhances digestion. When I say pull your tummy towards your spine, I really mean it. This slight compression encourages the digestive function of the spleen, liver and kidneys.
2. Promotes circulation. Although it isn't a head stand or handstand, it is considered an inversion because your head is below your heart. Fresh blood is pumped through the body flushing toxins, boosting immune health and regulating blood pressure. This is why you feel invigorated after a downward dog.
3. Improves bone density. Putting pressure and weight into your upper body means the bones here (wrists or shoulders) are getting a work out. Your bones crave weight bearing exercise to grow just like muscles need exercise to strengthen.
4. Allows you to pause and focus on your mind body connection through breathing.
5. Releases tension in your neck, shoulders and back. Studies show stretching is one of the best way to relax and release tension. In downward dog you should be elongating your neck, shoulders, shoulder blades and cervical spine. If you can nod your head 'yes' and 'no' you are doing wonders for the knots you often have in our shoulders and neck too.
6. With time when your legs begin to straighten, you will also stretch your hamstrings, calves and Achilles tendon.
Below is a brief clip on how to perfect your downward dog with tips for beginners. Enjoy!