A Tribute To Dynamo and the Power of Adho Mukah Svanasana (Downaward Dog)
“Down Dog” is a common theme in my house. Always some kids, dogs, yogis, traipsing through, as I am demanding a dog to “get-down” or being yoga-bombed by a dog’s tail, while practicing my downward dog pose. This year was no different, just with one less tail in my face. This past year my downward dog had a very different influence on my system. It wasn’t just strength building and decompressing my spine; somehow I felt more spiritual connection in every dog pose I continued to take. With each inhale I felt her spirit and each exhale I felt her presence. Downward dog was now guiding me towards a light I have so deeply missed these past 12 months.
Adho Mukah Svanasana, (Downward Dog) is the quintessential and possibly the most widely known pose in the yoga tradition. It is almost synonymous with yoga, and is often the very first pose that is taught in a class. This foundational pose has many benefits and can be considered a mini yoga session all on its own. The animal inspired pose is a form of communication to invite play or deeply awaken and stretch after a long nap. In yoga, we practice this pose so it can ultimately become an awakening pose as much as a restful place, a safe place and pose from which to build strength.
It so happens that our canine friends have been on to something for some time and downward facing dog pose can benefit humans in numerous ways. Here is a short list why everyone should practice downward dog :
- Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands
- Strengthens the arms and legs
- Improves digestion
- Relieves headache, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue
- Therapeutic for high blood pressure, asthma, flat feet, sciatica, sinusitis
- Relieves menstrual discomfort
- Helps prevent osteoporosis
- Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
- Reduces anxiety and depression
- Increases blood flow and lymph system activity
- Increases heart rate
For the last year, I have practiced my downward dog in homage to our animal kingdom, in gratitude for teaching us how to connect. Not just with the canine family but with our neighbours and perhaps even with our enemies. I nursed the last little bit of life for my favourite dog. She was one of 7 and was the most special. Her ability to connect with me was magical and her emotional intelligence seemed greater than some humans. Her patience was endless and her smile gentle and inviting. Her loyalty and zest for life were interchangeable and she shared them with me for 14 years. This year I practice downward dog every day to help me connect to her passed soul, only one year ago on Remembrance Day. She was as special as they come and reason enough to practice my Downward Dog.