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Guest blogger Stefanie Kopf from Austria tell us more about why we all love being in "downward facing dog"

A man’s best friend: Downward facing dog
(Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Some years ago one of my yoga teachers said: „If you only have time for one single asana, then practice Adho Mukha Svanasana.“ And I know why. This Asana incorporates many yoga benefits: it is a soft inversion, stretching and strengthening, tension and relaxation. And that’s the reason why I often hear my yoga students comfortably sigh when moving into downward facing dog. In Adho Mukha Svanasana we can get back to equal breathing. The asana is strengthening the upper body, arms, wrists and the nervous system. Simultaneously it stretches the whole back down the hamstrings to the achilles tendon. Additionally our blood circulation as well as our digestive system will be improved. As with all inversions, it increases the blood flow in the brain, lets tiredness vanish and rejuvenates our body. We activate especially the first chakra – the root chakra which is the seat of habits, behaviour patterns and basic insticts.
Isn’t it nice to prostrate with devotion? To whome is entirely up tot he yoga student.

How to perform the asana:

  • start on all four; hands are directly below the shoulders; fingers are evenly spread and the weight is on the mountain of the palms; knees are directly below the hips; feet hipwide apart
  • tuck in the toes and lift the hips up and back
  • straighten the knees and lift up
  • tense the thighs, pull the abdominal muslces in and open the chest by pressing into the arms
  • lift up from the shoulders and stretch up; move the ears away from the shoulder blades
  • tailbone is lifting up to the sky so that the buttocks is the highest point
  • press the heels into the floor

Beginners perceive this asana as challenging and strong therefore they should not stay too long in Adho Mukha Svanasana but gently build up on the lenght of time.

If needed they can always go back into Balasana (child pose) to relax and then come back into Adho Mukha Svanasana.

Contra-Indications:

Those with problems in the lower back or shortened hamstrings should bend their knees to take away the pressure and/or can use a block which is placed under the heels.

 Those with carpal tunnel syndrom or shoulder injuries should either place their hands on a block or if the pain is too strong, practice the half version of the asana. Therefore stand an arm’s lenght in front oft a wall, place your hands on the wall on hip level, fingers well spread, the legs are straight and hipwide apart. Engage the core to take away pressure on the lower back.

More information from and about Stefanie: www.kopfstandyoga.com

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