Downward-facing dog

Downward-facing dog, down dog, downward dog, adho muka svanasana – whatever you know it as –  is an integral pose of yoga.    Aligning yourself properly in this pose will reduce unnecessary strain, fatigue, and injury.  Also, understanding the benefits of down dog helps us understand why we are doing it in the first place!

First, here are some tips to help make sure you are in the pose correctly:

  • Start from plank pose with hands shoulder-distance apart making sure that your elbows are stacked directly over your wrists and your shoulders directly over your elbows.  Spread your fingers wide like you are digging in sand.  Press them into the ground paying particular attention to the forefinger and thumb.  Feet should be hip-distance apart.
  • From here lift your hips up as you move into the downward-dog position.  Try not to adjust your hands or your feet positions when you do this.  Continue to push your hands down into the ground.  Reach your heels down to the ground.  They do not actually have to touch the ground; the reaching is the important part.  If your heels do touch the ground then great!
  • Draw energy up through your arms, relax your shoulder blades towards each other, and reach your sits bones up and back.  Lift your navel in towards your back.  Let your head hang heavy and breathe.

Second, here are some benefits from down dog:

  • Helps build bone density because it is a weight baring exercise.
  • Helps wake you up and reduce fatigue.  Try the pose for at least one minute after a long day at the office.
  • It’s good for relieving upper back pain, neck pain, and for easing tension in this area.  It is also good for stress relief as the spine gets lengthened and decompressed.
  • It’s good for increasing blood circulation as the heart gets elevated above the head.  Active blood circulation aids in flushing toxins from our system, and regulating blood pressure.
  • Finally it’s good for enhancing digestion as the spleen, kidneys, and liver get compressed.  Also a good core strengthener.

There you have it.  Some tips on getting into Downward dog properly and what this pose does for our bodies as we practice it.

To your health.

Disclaimer:  All articles written on Microyogi are opinions and not meant to serve as any kind of instruction for how to move your body.  I am merely writing to serve as a means of trying to find my own answers.  I am not a certified trainer or medical expert.

Headaches: some yoga solutions

Headaches often accompany stress.  Releasing some tension from your body through some simple yoga poses may help relieve some of your pain.  Here are some very simple, beginner friendly poses which you can try. Try them for just a couple of minutes at the end of your work day 3 times a week. They will help get you moving a little, make you focus on something that is good for your body, and help you to wind down.

Cat Pose

Begin simply with your hands and knees on the floor in a tabletop position.  Exhale and round your spine up.  Inhale and return to the neutral tabletop.  Do this about 5 to 8 times using your breath to lead your movement.  How is this helping you?  This helps to elongate your spine and separate your disks which can get compressed when you sit for long periods of time.  Compression can affect the nerves which may be giving you headaches.

Eagle arms

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Eagle Arms

This is especially good for relieving tension headaches.  You can do this either standing or sitting cross legged.  This really releases shoulder tension.  Hold the pose for 5 to 8 breaths with left arm under right and then switch to right arm under left.

Child’s Pose

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Child’s Pose

This is the fundamental resting pose of yoga.  As you drop your shoulders and release tension your breath is directed towards your back.  This helps push oxygen up to your neck and shoulders.

Legs up the Wall Pose

So easy, yet so powerful.  Lie down on the floor near a wall and rest your legs up the wall.  This allows the pooled blood in your legs to circulate easily helping reduce fatigue and anxiety.  Stay here for as long as you like breathing deeply and fully.

Corpse Pose

This is usually the final pose of yoga practice.  This is the time to slow down your breathing, quiet your mind, and relax your whole body.

Corpse Pose
Corpse Pose

 

All these poses, as well as a few more, can be viewed  in this article from The Huffington Post: 10 of the Best Yoga Poses for Headaches.

To your health