Adho Mukha Svanasana, or more familiarly, Downward Facing Dog, is a well-known, classic yoga pose. Everyone, regardless of whether or not they’ve tried yoga before, has heard of and seen this pose in movies, countless yoga ads, and on the cover of health and fitness magazines and DVDs. The literal translation of the pose is the origin of the English moniker; though AdhoMukhaSvanasana sounds a lot fancier, it really does translate to Downward Facing Dog, or to be exact, Adhomeans “down”, Mukha means “face”, Svana means “dog”, and Asana means “posture” or “seat.” Benefits of doing this pose include opening your shoulders and lengthening your spine, both of which lead to a better, straighter pose (hence the Sanskrit word Asana for posture being in the original name) as well as the appearance of added height and confidence.
The Downward Facing Dog pose also stretches out your hamstrings, warming them up so that your legs don’t feel painfully tight as you do more yoga poses or work out. It helps with blood flow and circulation and strengthens your body’s defense system. Finally, this pose has the ability to calm you, since your head position is below your chest, or heart, creating a slight inversion that contributes to a soothing effect. In order to do this pose, first, you must get on all fours. Make sure to use a yoga mat so as to not hurt your hands, knees, or feet. From this position, walk your hands forward a palm’s length in front of you, then tuck your toes in. Then, lift your hips upwards then towards the back in order to lengthen out your spine.
Press your weight into your hands, reach your upper thighs above and behind you, and keep your eyes down on the mat. Keep in mind that you should make your arms firm so as to reduce trembling. If you find that you’re not flexible enough for the Downward Facing Dog pose, try this modification: bend your knees so that your weight is shifted to your legs rather than completely in your arms and upper body. When doing this pose, hold it for as long as is comfortable for you. If you start feeling dizzy or lightheaded, go into the Child’s Pose, which is when you tuck your knees to your chest and stretch your arms out straight in front of you, resting your hands on the mat. Child’s Pose is extremely relaxing and will lightly stretch out your entire body while also not placing any strain on it. TIP – Don’t Compare Yourself to Others While doing poses such as Downward Facing Dog, you may find yourself self-conscious or comparing yourself to those around you to see if you’re the only one that looks foolish while sticking your behind up in the air. However, there is no point at all in comparing yourself to others!
Everyone has to start somewhere, and we were all beginners once. In fact, you should enjoy being a beginner, since you’ll only ever be at that point once; from there on out, you can only improve and move forward. Your journey has just begun, and comparison will only make you feel worse about yourself, since it often leads to jealousy and feelings of inferiority. You are all doing the same pose, and therefore, you probably do not look as ridiculous as you may start to feel after constantly checking on others in your proximity. Furthermore, comparing yourself to more advanced yoga goers will cause you to try and tackle poses too hard for your level, which may lead to accidentally hurting yourself or making a bigger fool out of yourself than you had originally believed yourself to be from comparing yourself too much. Don’t worry, you never looked foolish; our mind is often our biggest enemy. Overcome your anxiety and self-consciousness, and instead of looking over your shoulder to either judge others or judge yourself, focus on bettering yourself and your body. Keep in tune with your own mind, take deep breaths, and concentrate until you feel like you are the only one in the room. If you still find yourself looking around the room at those advanced yoga goers that look so graceful and elegant in even the strangest of poses, like Downward Facing Dog, then try this instead: rather than feeling ashamed and even going so far as to quit or decide to only do yoga in the safety and privacy of your own room from now on, look to those advanced yoga goers for inspiration. There’s so much you can learn from the people around you. All it takes is the right mindset. Try to apply the positives you see in them to yourself, keep practicing, and believe in yourself. That’s all it takes to succeed in yoga! It’s not about being the best (yoga isn’t a highly competitive Olympic sport where you’re trying to win the gold medal!); it’s about improving your own body and mind at a pace that is comfortable for you as an individual.Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) — Jack Cuneo Yoga yogaposes8
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