Even though downward facing dog is a fabulous pose, it can be difficult for many people, especially in the wrists and the shoulders. These four preparatory actions will get everything ready and ensure that one comes into this pose with a respect for where they are in their bodies. Watch Neesha demonstrate how to warm up and get the proper actions to have the best possible experience in the pose!
With these exercises, we get the wrists to move in a flexed position. This is not an ordinary movement when compared to everyday motions. We also bring awareness to the placement of the hands. This is key to supporting the pose, even for a few breaths! We also warm up the forearms so that the wrists get stronger to support much of the weight of your body.
We do a few poses with the arms extended overhead, which might be challenging if the shoulders and chest are tight. In the video, we ease into a little bit of leg work. This trains the pelvis to rotate over the top of the leg bones (a fancy way of saying elongating your hamstrings). Getting the legs to work better takes a lot of the weight off of your shoulders and hands so that you can work up to holding the pose longer, in comfort, receiving all the benefits!
This is a great reason to add this shape into your daily or weekly routine. When done properly (or close to it!), the downward facing dog pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana in Sanskrit) builds strength in your arms, wrists, shoulders, back, tummy, and legs. You also get the added bonus of stretching your shoulders, back, and legs. The stretching of the legs usually occurs in the backs of the hamstrings and calves.
We need to keep doing things to support bone density, especially as we age. When done with proper preparation and alignment, this is a preventative pose. However, we don’t recommend that you jump right into downward facing dog if you have osteopenia or osteoporosis because it can put too much stress on your joints and bones.
Mindfulness is all the rage lately because it is good for the brain and your overall ability to bounce back from stress. Much joy and satisfaction can be found in the simple here and now. The physicality of yoga really helps to accomplish this. Because there is a lot to pay attention to in the body, it can make it easier to be in the present moment.
Downward facing dog is an inversion pose. Getting your head below your heart changes your body from its normal orientation. A circulation blast to your brain and the opportunity to look at the world upside down will open up new mindsets and mental doorways. Clearer thinking, a refreshed perspective, and more extensive views of possibilities are all benefits of bringing your head below your heart in an active way.
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