May 2020 Pose of the Month

Adho Muhka Svanasana or as you may better know it: Downward Facing Dog

Week 1 – Meeting the Posture

Adho Muhka Svanasana or as you may better know it: Downward Facing Dog

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Me on day 1

I wanted to start with this pose because it is so often included and under-cued in classes, used often as a transitional pose it is one we tend to move through and forgo instruction on. It is also an easy pose to develop bad habits in that will set you up for difficulty and maybe even injury down the line. I always had wrist pain in this pose – for like a decade – until a teacher offered the cue of setting your pointer finger parallel instead of your middle finger – like magic no more wrist pain – because now my wrists were actually straight, and my arms, and so on throughout the body. If our foundation is off it has a ripple effect and alters everything built on top.

So now what are we doing all month? Ok so here is the plan for the challenge….

Day 1 – Take a photo of yourself in the pose, (that is mine ^^ up there) you can share or not, totally up to you, but this will help you get a visual of yourself in the posture so you can see what the shape looks like in your body and where you might need to adjust it. Remember we have a hard time really knowing where we are in space so the photo lets you have the view of the teacher, and now we can start to dissect the pose and find the best version of this shape in your body. After you’ve practiced the pose, and checked out your photo, jot down your goals for the pose along with anything else that comes up, was it hard/easy, did you love/hate it, did you notice you need a pedicure, no rules here just a quick jot of whatever comes up.

Everyday for the rest of the month commit to practicing this pose. It doesn’t need to be a full yoga practice, just give yourself a little warm up and stretch, remember to be nice to the body and to listen. Then for the pose of the month (or POTM for short) allow yourself a few breaths to settle in and find the shape, once you come to stillness hold the pose for 5 slow, even, deep breaths. Come down and allow for a moment of pause before jumping up – think mini savasana – settle the body – and that’s it!! Now pat yourself on the back for committing to your practice today! I encourage you to take the time to jot a note everyday and track your journey but that may not work for you, and that’s ok, make this your journey.

My goal here is less about getting better at the pose and more about the journey of the pose throughout the 30 days. No doubt we will improve a posture by practicing everyday, but the practice of yoga is less about the shapes we make in the body and more about what comes up during those shapes. I encourage you to take this time to connect to your body, your mind and your practice in a deeper or at least different way. I am looking forward to taking this journey along with you.

Here is a little video of what my mini daily practice is going to look like along with some cues for the pose….

Week 2 – Why should I?

Welcome to day 8 of our challenge everyone! Even if your practice hasn’t been perfect so far, actually especially if your practice hasn’t been perfect so far, take a moment and thank yourself for all your hard work! Head over to the Facebook group to join me for a mini class where we chat about what the hands are up to in the pose.

So… we know that yoga is good for us, and we know that we usually feel better after spending some time on the mat, but do you know why? If we are going to spend time every month practicing a posture let’s take a minute and start to get to know it a little better…..

Down Dog is working the WHOLE body, this is why its great and also why most people hate it at first. No lie this pose is HARD! If the pose is working the whole body then that means we need to be paying attention to the whole body, fingers to toes everything is working, no wonder this pose is so hard right….and then teachers have the nerve to say “down dog is a resting pose”…. insert major eye roll here right!! While you may or may not ever think of this pose as a resting pose, there are plenty of other reasons to find a love for it in your practice…..

  • WORKS THE WHOLE BODY – I mean what better reason do you need…if a sweat session is what brings you to the mat adding this pose to your practice is getting the full body all in one. Taking it a step further, by working the whole body this is one of those poses that will help us in so many other areas of our practice. The strength we build here translates to virtually every other pose and will help to ease transitions and help to create flows in our practice.
  • LESS SCARY INVERSION – When we first come to the practice the idea of being upside down might be exhilarating or terrifying. Either way, as you are building up to headstands and handstands down dog is a great way to get the benefits of inversions without the same risk of injury or fear factor. Spending time upside down is a great way to quite literally get a new perspective on things. Inversions are also great for stress relief, increasing circulation to the brain, and calming the nervous system….among other things.
  • BEAT THE HUMP – We are building tons of arm and upper body strength in this posture. We are also helping to reverse rounding in the shoulders and a caving of the chest that is so common today. When we spend all day hunched over our computers and our cellphones we create a rounded shape in the upper body. This pose opens the chest and draws the shoulders back reversing that humpback we all want to avoid as we age.

These are some great reasons and a good start to the list of benefits….but I also encourage you to notice what benefits you find specific to your body and your practice. Did you notice an improvement maybe off the mat and it made you think of your practice, how is the posture evolving for you as you practice each day, how is it showing up in other ways on the mat, do you notice a change in other poses, etc., there are no wrong answers here.

Join me in the group for more tips and tricks and check ins as the month continues. See you next week!

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