Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

I’m a collector of yoga DVD’s and mats.  As far as mats go, I love the colors.  Thanks to the ever-increasing popularity of yoga now days it’s like sorting out a crayon box.

My Friend Steven Doing Downward Facing Dog

Maybe it’s just my particular collection of DVD’s, but downward facing dog, aptly named, as I see my own dog doing this pose several times a day, seems to be the most popular or widely used pose by yoga practitioners.  It is also part of the Sun Salutation, a series of gentle flow movements synchronized with the breath.  In yoga asanas I’ve learned that the moves should always follow the breath.

I find myself enjoying wide legged downward facing dog as opposed to the regular stretch.  This pose is often used as a transitional pose between other poses and is sometimes called a resting pose.  In comparison to other poses such as for instance the Camel, one might say so.  However, the only pose I truly consider resting is the Dead Man’s Pose.

I began reading up on the benefits of this particular pose.  Since I suffer from sciatica I was surprised and happy to find that this particular pose relieved this condition.  From various sources here are the benefits I found.

From:  http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/491

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
  • Energizes the body
  • Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands
  • Strengthens the arms and legs
  • Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
  • Relieves menstrual discomfort when done with head supported
  • Helps prevent osteoporosis
  • Improves digestion
  • Relieves headache, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue
  • Therapeutic for high blood pressure, asthma, flat feet, sciatica, sinusitis

From:   http://www.active.com/mindandbody/articles/Pose_of_the_Month__Downward_Facing_Dog.htm

  • Stronger hands, wrists, low-back, hamstrings, calves and Achilles tendon
  • Decrease in back pain by strengthening the entire back and shoulder girdle
  • Elongated shoulders and shoulder blade area
  • Decrease in tension and headaches by elongating the cervical spine and neck and relaxing the head
  • Deepened respiration
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Increased full-body circulation

From:  “Yoga Conditioning for Weight Loss” by Suzanne Deason

  • Calms the Mind
  • Stretches and tones the legs
  • Brings circulation to the torso to aid digestion
  • Stretches shoulders and releases tension

I could not find any mystical benefits specifically for Downward Facing Dog.  It is the eighth exercise out of twelve in a continuous cycle making up the Sun Salutation.  The physical benefits of the Sun Salutation is helping the body to become strong and vibrant while exercising the entire body as well as the organs.  The mystical benefits of the Sun Salutation are that it awakens the kriya kundalini producing visional states of meditation.

I’m thankful for the comfort that yoga has brought to me.

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