Deep Dive into Down Dog

Downward Dog PoseDownward-facing Dog Pose,] or Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Sanskrit: अधोमुखश्वानासन; IAST: Adho Mukha Śvānāsana), is an inversion asana in modern yoga as exercise, often practised as part of a flowing sequence of poses, especially Surya Namaskar, the Salute to the Sun  The asana does not have formally named variations, but several playful variants are used to assist beginning practitioners to become comfortable in the pose.

Downward Dog stretches the hamstring and calf muscles in the backs of the legs, and builds strength in the shoulders. Some popular sites have advised against it during pregnancy, but an experimental study of pregnant women found it beneficial.

Downward Dog has been called “deservedly one of yoga’s most widely recognized yoga poses” and the “quintessential yoga pose”.  As such it is often the asana of choice when yoga is depicted in film, literature, and advertising. The pose has frequently appeared in Western culture, including in the titles of novels, a painting, and a television series, and it is implied in the name, YOGΛ, of a foldable computer.

History of Downward Facing Dog

The name comes from the pose’s similarity to the way a dog stretches when getting up. The Sanskrit name is from adhas (अधस्) meaning “down”, mukha (मुख) meaning “face”, śvāna (श्वान) meaning “dog”, and āsana (आसन) meaning “posture” or “seat”.

The name is not found in the medieval hatha yoga texts, but a similar posture, Gajāsana (Elephant Pose), was described in the 18th century Hațhābhyāsapaddhati; the text calls for it to be repeated “over and over again” from a prone position.

Description

The pose has the head down, ultimately touching the floor, with the weight of the body on the palms and the feet. The arms are stretched straight forward, shoulder width apart; the feet are a foot apart, the legs are straight, and the hips are raised as high as possible.

The pose is approached differently in different schools of yoga. In Iyengar Yoga, the pose can be entered from a prone position, with the hands beside the chest, setting the distance between hands and feet.  In schools such as Sivananda Yoga, the pose is practised as part of Surya Namaskar, the Salute to the Sun, for example following Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Dog Pose) by exhaling, curling the toes under, and raising the hips. In the Bihar School of Yoga, the pose is named Parvatasana, Mountain Pose, the hands and feet somewhat closer to each other so that the angle at the hips is sharper; it is entered from a lunge (Ashwa Sanchalanasana) in a variant of Surya Namaskar. (wiki)

Benefits of the Pose

  • Strengthens hands, wrists, low-back, hamstrings, calves and Achilles tendon
  • A great stretch for your feet, hamstrings, calf muscles, and biceps
  • Opens and strengthens shoulders
  • Strengthens triceps and bicep
  • Helps you connect to your core.
  • Can be calming after strenuous poses
  • Strengthen quads, hip flexors, and knee joint
  • Increased full-body circulation
  • Decreases 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
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Today’s Daily Buddha

Yoga is much more than the physical movement of our bodies on the yoga mats. Yoga also offers us insights into our motivations, our desires and the ways in which we think and feel about ourselves. We can broaden our experience of yoga by exploring yoga philosophy and mythology. This approach is called Jnana (NYAH-nah) Yoga. The Sanskrit word jnana means wisdom and jnana yoga means the yoga of wisdom. In our lives as yoga practitioners, we can cultivate an intelligence of both our bodies and our minds. Wisdom can be found in every corner, whether we are moving on our mats, practicing meditation on a cushion or reading ancient texts. Yoga is wisdom.

from…Yoga 365 – Daily Wisdom for Life on and off the Mat

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Today’s Daily Buddha

It is a known fact that what we think about and talk about is what we bring about. Therefore, we should be careful about what occupies our mind because, whether we realize it or not, all of our thoughts are like seeds that, in time, will bring forth fruit.

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Deep Dive into Tree Pose

The name comes from the Sanskrit words vṛkṣa (वृक्ष) meaning “tree”, and āsana (आसन) meaning “posture”.

History of Tree Pose

A 7th-century stone carving in Mahabalipuram appears to contain a figure standing on one leg, perhaps indicating that a pose similar to vrikshasana was in use at that time. It is said that sadhus disciplined themselves by choosing to meditate in the pose.

The pose is described in the 17th century Gheraṇḍa Saṃhitā.

Description of Tree Pose

From Tadasana, weight is shifted to one leg, for example, starting with the left leg. The entire sole of the foot remains in contact with the floor. The right knee is bent and the right foot placed on the left inner thigh, or in half lotus position. In either foot placement, the hips should be open, with the bent knee pointing towards the side. With the toes of the right foot pointing directly down, the left foot, center of the pelvis, shoulders and head are all vertically aligned. Hands are typically held above the head either pointed directly upwards and unclasped, or clasped together in anjali mudra. The asana is typically held for 20 to 60 seconds, returning to tadasana while exhaling, then repeating standing on the opposite leg.

Benefits of Tree Pose (Vrikshasana)

  • Improves balance and stability in the legs.
  • Strengthens the ligaments and tendon of the feet.
  • Strengthens and tones the entire standing leg, up to the buttocks.
  • Assists the body in establishing pelvic stability.
  • Strengthen the bones of the hips and legs due to the weight-bearing nature of the pose.
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Today’s Daily Buddha

The Buddha (also known as Siddhartha Gotama or Siddhārtha Gautama) was a philosopher, mendicant, meditator, spiritual teacher, and religious leader who lived in Ancient India (c. 5th to 4th century BCE). He is revered as the founder of the world religion of Buddhism, and worshiped by most Buddhist schools as the Enlightened One who has transcended Karma and escaped the cycle of birth and rebirth. He taught for around 45 years and built a large following, both monastic and lay. (wiki)

To learn more:

The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation 

Bump up your energy with Camel Pose

Ustrasana is a deep backward bend from a kneeling position. The completed pose has the hands on the heels.  The backs of the feet may be flat on the floor, or the toes may be tucked under for a slightly less strong backbend.

Ustrasana works subtlyto improve conditions of the digestive, respiratory, endocrine, lymphatic, skeletal, and circulatory systems.

In addition to boosting energy, some of the many benefits include:

  • Relieving back pain
  • Helps with posture
  • May improve confidence
  • Can counteract slouching and kyphosis (abnormal curvature of the spine) 
  • Stretches your abdomen, chest, shoulders, front of your hips (hip flexors), and front of your thighs (quadriceps) 
  • Strengthens your back muscles and back of your thighs
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