Monday, July 13, 2009

Downward Dog

Downward Dog (adho mukha svanasana) was a posture that I had hated for a long time. I remember Scott Davis (our teacher) would keep Saffron and I in the pose for what seemed like a dogs ages :).

Now it is an all around favourite. Some of the things that are so invigorating about this pose were the exact reason it was so formidable back then. We are supporting perhaps 40% of our body weight with our upper body depending on how far our legs are from our hands. This makes for an opportunity to bring good stress to the bones, muscles and joints of the upper body which can help prevent diseases associated with under use of the upper body i.e osteoporosis.

There are some interesting benefits to the fact that your brain is now essentially lower than your heart which makes this pose technically an inversion posture.

What you want to make sure of is that you are not putting excessive stress on the shoulder joint or wrist, particularly at the sides of the neck by the shoulder or in the arm pit. By feeling for openness and softness in the skin you can find the right muscles for making the adjustments comfortable.

If the leg muscles slacken, this can drop more weight on the shoulders and wrists, so using the legs to help you lift out of the pose is valuable work.

The straight line you see from my hips to my hands is not possible for a small percentage of the population due to certain length of bones. Same goes for heels touching the ground, not everyone is able nor needs to do that. This is why a key instruction in Yoga is not to force.

If you can stick with this posture for a few weeks you may learn to love it, it is one of my favourites now.