Sunday, 29 May 2011

One Legged Downward Facing Dog or Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana

At TriYoga, London

Anyone who has been to a yoga class, even just the once, knows what Downward Facing Dog is. It is a deceptively simple-looking yoga pose that can leave you breathless and the body shaking in less than a minute. I have seen men with inflated muscles fall over and women collapse on the mat, including myself. 

Downward Facing Dog
Down Dog is a basic pose in yoga and is practised quite a few times during a class. It builds up body's strength and flexibility slowly.
I am demonstrating One Legged Downward Facing Dog above. It is a step up from the normal Down Dog, where both feet and hands touch the floor. I suggest doing at least a couple of normal Down Dogs first before lifting the leg. If you take your time and warm up slowly, your leg muscles will stretch further and without any pain. How far up the leg goes is irrelevant; all bodies are different and yoga is not a competition for gymnasts or contortionists.

A few useful points to remember when practising Downward Facing Dog:
*  check your hands first. All fingers and both thumbs from tip to root have to be glued to the mat
* push your palms flat against the floor so that there is no hollow in the middle. Hands are the foundation of the pose
* if you want to lift your leg, do it slowly and while breathing in. Once the leg is up, try to lengthen the body from the tip of your fingers to the tip of your toes. The psoas and iliacus muscles will get a very nice stretch
* take slow, deep and steady breaths and enjoy looking at the world from a different angle!

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