Adho Mukha Svanasana is most often performed as a part of Surya Namaskaras (Sun Salutations). Downward-facing dog comes from the Sanskrit word Adho Mukha Svanasana (Adho meaning downward, Mukha meaning face, Svana meaning dog, and asana meaning pose or posture). This pose is like the position a dog takes while stretching after having a nap.
Since the head is brought lower than the pelvis this pose is generally classified as an inversion pose. Downward dog is considered one of the most easily accessible inversions. This simple yet dynamic yoga pose is often used as an opener for more complicated and demanding yoga asanas. Downward-facing dog can be practiced independently as it has an entire set of physical, mental and emotional benefits that can be obtained by practicing this asana regularly.
This inverted pose is performed lengthwise with the hands and feet pushing against the floor. The hips are raised in the air. The body eventually forms a pyramid triangular- shape. Yoga beginners can use yoga props such as placing the hands on yoga blocks or keeping the knees bent (as seen in the picture above) to help maintain proper alignment in the pose. Even if your feet do not touch the ground, they eventually will with continued practice. The goal is not necessarily for the feet to touch, but to keep the back in the “slope” position.
Avoid this pose if you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome or diarrhea.
Avoid practicing this pose during the latter stages of pregnancy.
It is unadvisable to practice this pose during menstruation.
If you have a headache or suffer from high blood pressure, you should support your head with a block or bolster.
Avoid this pose if you suffer from a chronic or recent injury to the shoulders, arms, hips and back.
*Always consult your doctor prior to beginning any exercise regimen including yoga. If you have any questions or about this pose, consult a yoga practitioner to ensure that you learn the posture correctly to avoid injuries.
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana is from Sanskrit; Urdhva meaning Upward, Mukha meaning Face, Svana meaning Dog and Asana meaning Posture or Pose. Upward-Facing Dog is a powerful yoga pose that will rouse the upper body, help you build strength and provide you with a gentle backbend in preparation for deeper backbends. This pose is normally part of the traditional Sun Salutation sequence in Ashtanga and other Vinyasa yoga classes and is most often practiced with Downward-Facing Dog. Like Downward Dog this pose is named after the behavior of a stretching dog after a long nap!
Although this pose may appear to be simple, it offers more than its share of proper alignment and challenges. Despite its seemingly simple nature, this posture offers many benefits and can help advance your yoga practice in a variety of ways.
Modifications & Variations
Upward-Facing Dog provides a deep stretch to the entire spine and front torso. Be careful not to force your body into the pose. Practice this pose slowly and come out of the pose if you feel any pain or pinching sensations.
It takes time to build the flexibility and strength for Upward-Facing Dog. Practice Cobra Pose as an alternative pose if Upward-Facing Dog is not yet possible for you.
If your feet and ankles are stiff, from Chaturanga into Upward-Facing Dog, let your thighs come to the floor, then turn your feet over one at a time.
If you find it difficult to keep your legs lifted off the mat, place your thighs on the floor.
Yoga can be transformative, and though the advanced yoga postures are in fact difficult to the beginner, the changes that yoga can bring into one’s life belie the apparent simplicity of just stretching muscles. After all, we stretch muscles at the gym during a warm up. So, what is the difference between yoga and regular workouts? Yoga integrates the breath with movement and consciousness with physical stretches as a way of strengthening the internal muscles of the body; particularly the pelvic floor.
In yoga, through the breath, and focusing on it within our body, we come to a greater understanding of both our body and ourselves. We begin a more conscious relationship with our individuality. We meet that unique expression of ourselves expressing physically in that moment. We can begin a process of changing that which is blocking the vital flow of our energy.
That is why it doesn’t matter what state we are in when we begin practicing yoga. We might not be flexible, or perhaps we are in pain, or distracted. It is a journey of discovery, not of trying to fit ourselves into an external idea, even if that idea is represented in that moment by the yoga posture we are trying to do. T.K.V. Desikachar (son of the great yoga master Sri Krishnamacharya ) wrote that the body can “only gradually accept an asana”. We should not strain ourselves, or judge ourselves, if we cannot fit into that posture. That posture is a possible outcome, yes, but what we do in our practice of yoga is to take the journey.
T.K.V. Desikachar makes another important point: “We should remain flexible so that we are still able to react to changes in our expectations and old ideas. The more distanced we are from the fruits of our labors, the better we can do this… Paying more attention to the spirit in which we act and looking less to the results our actions may bring us – this is the meaning of Ishvara pranidhana—surrendering. ”
The asanas are a way of preparing us to more fully meet the challenges of life in a way that does not throw us off balance, but increases our capacity to adapt to those changes that are inherent in life. They allow us to be more sensitive and aware to what is really going on inside and in life itself. This growing self-knowledge then provides us with a complete picture in which our responses to whatever situations confront us more accurately reflects what is truly present. There is a deeper engagement that goes beyond the wandering of the mind, the self-doubt, the domination of our preconceptions and expectations, or our need for something to be a certain way.
When we are distracted or preoccupied with doubt, worry, fear, and even hope that is attached to an outcome (need), the vital energy of our whole being is leaking, diffused. Through yoga practice, we can clear the debris, to redirect our subtle energy within, to sit within the body, our being, again. This is an energetic aspect of self-mastery. Integral to this is the knowledge of oneself as whole, and simultaneously a part of the wholeness that is within everything.
References: The Heart of Yoga, T.K.V. Desikachar
You may be wondering, how does yoga help with glowing skin? When you practice yoga, the blood circulation in your body is enhanced. This means more oxygen and less free radicals. The fresh blood from a yoga practice also imparts a warm “glow” to the cheeks. Apart from this, toxins are flushed out, and the body is toned, adding to the beauty dynamic. Yoga also helps in regulating the digestive and excretory system that helps the internal purification system to work in a better way.
Both men and women alike want to have healthy and glowing skin, however, this may be hard to achieve given the number of pollutants, UV rays, harsh weather conditions, and toxins in the air, they can all take a toll on one's skin. Yoga is a more natural solution to help achieve that glow we all desire. So roll out your yoga mat, and try the above yoga poses daily for glowing skin.
“Dirty dishes, red lights, and traffic jams are spiritual friends on the path to “mindfulness”—the process of keeping our consciousness alive to our present experience and reality.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindfulness exercises come from thousands of years of traditions and Eastern practices of meditation. They have been devised to declutter the mind from its daily chores of mechanical living. By practicing mindfulness exercises, we can learn to focus our awareness/consciousness on the present moment without judging the thoughts that come in our mind. It's about letting the present become a reality in total consciousness and total awareness.
Exercises for Groups
According to researchers, meditation in groups is often very effective for beginners as the environment created in groups is perfect for everyone to meditate. Meditation is a mental activity that helps us to revitalize our minds. Just like exercise is necessary for our physical health, meditation is necessary for our mental health. Although meditation requires time and effort, its benefits are immense and they help our mind to be aware and focused in our daily lives.
Quieten the Mind:
Every passing second innumerable thoughts pass through our minds. By quietening the mind, one focuses all their attention away from daily problems and issues of life. Neither thoughts in the mind are resisted are they allowed to occupy the brain completely. One just witnesses the thoughts without judging them. Just letting the mind be still is the key for this exercise. Thoughts will arise, let them come in but don't let them interfere with your meditation. Just watch them pass like clouds in the sky; witnessing them. As you begin to distance yourself from these thoughts, they will slowly subside and you will experience serenity and peace of mind.
Focus on Your Breathing:
While watching the mind helps you to learn basic awareness skills, focusing on some object for a period of time helps to increase focus. Sitting quietly and relaxing your mind by breathing deeply. After some time, watch your breath with increased awareness while you inhale and exhale. As your awareness increases, your breathing system will be steady and you will be able to feel relaxed and focused.
Exercises for Kids
Since adults have benefited from clinical and medical observations of these exercises, children too can benefit from these exercises. Since training children can be difficult, they may get easily frustrated or distracted; therefore, it's best to teach these exercises in groups. Children should be encouraged to practice simple breathing exercises that will help them to establish а proper platform for further meditative practices.
Awareness About Breathing:
Children may not pay much attention to the most basic function their body, so it 's a good idea to start exercises that make them aware about their breathing patterns. Children should be taught to focus on their breath and not to change the rhythm, hold, nor inhale/exhale breath forcefully. Awareness should be the main focus. They can be asked to count 1, 2, 3... with every breath they inhale and exhale. This will keep them focused on the breath.
Awareness About Thoughts:
After children are aware about the present moment, their focus can be shifted to their thoughts and feelings. They can be asked to watch their rising thoughts and feelings without making any judgment or getting distracted by them.
Mindfulness exercises have gained popularity throughout the world and people have started practicing them for gaining more control with their emotional health. With regular practice, these exercises can be beneficial for those wishing to achieve holistic health.
Is Yoga the answer? Why are so many people choosing to ignore the warning signs that are causing major concerns towards their health - environmental hazards which are out of our control but very much a part of our lives is becoming a worry to us all. Then we have another health issue - stress, which is destroying people's lives with energies of destruction affecting how they live.
Is Yoga the answer? Stress/anxiety affects people in different ways so it is important - before buying over the counter any pills or remedy powders is to consult a doctor. Depression can cause so much pain and suffering to a patient in the way of taking over - how they think - what they do or how they act. For a person not to be in control of their own actions is a serious situation therefore you need to talk to someone if you feel that you are experiencing anxious moments.
Is Yoga the answer? Stress and anxiety symptoms can be sedated and calmed with the right treatment and medication - but any advice on what should be administered for easing these discomforts should be from a doctor or herbalist if you choose the natural way for help. If your health or that of your family is giving you reason for concern then consider yoga. Is Yoga the answer, Yoga is proving to be a great antidote for stress related ailments. They say do not knock it till you try it and this goes for yoga also. Stress is a troubling mind meddler where in some unfortunate cases - patients have been hospitalized. Depending on the seriousness of the illness - mild yoga techniques can help.
Body awareness is the main issue when joining a yoga class. By knowing the mechanics on body parts like muscles - joints and organs can help you nip in the bud many uncontrollable body function outbursts before they start
Is Yoga the answer in helping combat stress? Stress problems are addressed with a type of yoga that helps control the mind in the form of meditation exercises. Meditation is a common Yoga type exercised by millions worldwide. Even the medical world believes that Yoga is proving to be very beneficial to suffering patients. It is now a common practice by doctors all over the world to refer patients on a regular basis to perform these exercises in the way of a medicinal fix - naturally. Is Yoga the answer - Yes (depending on the patient and the illness?)
*The above article is for informational/educational purposes only and should never replace the advice of your healthcare professional! Talk to your physician prior to beginning any yoga practice if you have any health issues or concerns.
It's a terrible feeling; you’re all tucked in bed, cozy, the room temperature is perfect, the lights are dimmed low, but you can’t seem to fall asleep no matter how hard you try! We’ve all experienced this at one time or another at bedtime. Nothing is more frustrating than that feeling. Many people experience this and end up groggy and lethargic the next morning. Whatever energy you have quickly diminishes throughout the day, and no matter how sleepy you are that night, you still have trouble sleeping. If you want to stay healthy, feel and look your best, consistent quality sleep is a necessity.
Thankfully, getting a good night’s sleep is easier than you think; and it doesn’t involve supplements or doctor visits. It is simply meditation techniques for sleep — an effective, natural solution for anyone who wants a more natural approach to achieve deep, rejuvenating sleep, and awaken feeling refreshed and recharged.
Effective Meditation Techniques for Sleep
The key to a good night’s sleep is relaxation. Meditation prior to bed is one of the best ways to relax your mind and body (those experiencing long term insomnia should consult their doctor if this persists). Below some techniques to try that may make falling asleep easier.
One of the simplest and most effective techniques is meditation music. Sleep comes easily if you listen to soft, soothing music just before bed. While listening to this music, perform simple breathing exercises to bring your breathing to а stable rhythm. This is great for stress relief as well as, making you more calm and relaxed. A suggestion would be to use а CD player with а remote control so that you can turn it off when you’re ready to sleep or plugging your earphones into your mobile phone and relaxing with a meditation app that offers music for sleep.
"BY [MEDITATING] EACH NIGHT, SLUMBER CAN BECOME A REALITY INSTEAD OF A ‘DREAM.’” —ORA NADRICH
This technique involves your imagination. To begin, get into а comfortable position in your bed. Once you’re comfortable, try a slow breathing exercise to relax your mind and body. A relaxed mind, devoid of thoughts, is capable of vivid imagination. Clear your mind and picture yourself in а place which represents peace and quiet to you. Continue to imagine yourself in this place, doing an activity that helps to keep you calm. This technique can also involve another person as a guide too. This person can guide you through your journey to this peaceful place. Keep in mind, the place that you imagine should be your own idea. Choosing to be in а place that someone else is imagining will not help you because what’s peaceful for person may not be for someone else.
This technique requires а fair amount of concentration. To begin, get in а relaxed position, this can be your bed or even a comfortable reclining chair. Close your eyes, and slowly begin to sense each part of your body (this is called full body scan). Start at the top of your head all the way down to your feet. While doing this, begin to feel the blood coursing through your veins. Feel the circulation. Now, slowly begin to feel your pulse in every part of your body. As you feel your pulse, recognize the warm sensation that is flowing throughout your entire body. As you recognize this you will feel а tingling sensation in every part that your mind is picturing. Once your entire body has been scanned, open your eyes. You should feel much more relaxed and ready for a good night’s sleep.
Muscle Contraction and Relaxation
This is yet another simple and effective technique for sleep. Begin with your toes, squeeze them for about ten seconds and then release. Feel the sensation. Repeat this technique, moving upwards in your body, alternatively squeezing and relaxing the muscles. This method helps to increase and improve blood circulation helping you to unwind from the day and thus aiding in sleep.
These were just some meditation techniques to help you relax and drift off to sleep. By trying one of these tonight you will see how refreshed you will feel tomorrow morning.
While Padmasana (Lotus Pose) may seem simple, it is considered an intermediate to advanced pose and may not be comfortable for beginners. Lotus Pose is sitting cross-legged with the spine vertically straight, making it ideal for meditation and concentration.
Padmasana in Sanskrit, comes from the words padma (meaning lotus) and sana (meaning seat or throne). The lotus, a sacred aquatic plant, is one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols and one of Buddhism’s most recognized motifs. Traditional Hindu texts says that Padmasana destroys all disease and awakens kundalini (a dormant energy residing at the base of the spine that can be awakened through meditation and yoga).
Getting into Lotus Pose
Avoid practicing this pose if you have recent or chronic injury to the knees, ankles, or hips. Lotus Pose requires a great deal of flexibility and self-awareness to be performed correctly. If you do not yet have the flexibility to practice this pose, practice Half Lotus (Ardha Padmasana) or Easy Pose (Sukhasana) until you become more flexible.
Remember to always practice yoga within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical conditions or concerns, talk with your doctor prior to any yoga practice.
Finding balance in yoga can be challenging. Even though you’ve created a space on your mat to be present, there can still be a lot of distractions that make balancing on one foot with the opposite leg extended pretty difficult! If Vasisthasana (Side Plank Pose) has you feeling a bit un-balanced (pun intended),then these five tips will help you find your balance.
Find Your Drishti
If you've taken a yoga class or practiced with yoga videos at home then I’m sure you’ve heard the yoga teacher say to find your drishti, or focus, in practice. When you concentrate on an object or a gazing point in front of you, you minimize distractions or negative thoughts that might come up in a balancing posture.
Clear your mind and shift your focus on the breath. With so many other things to concentrate on in a balancing pose, it’s easy to lose your breath. This only makes it harder! Use your breath as a way to focus, and a way to find your fullest expression.
Focus on Alignment
Maintaining proper alignment is integral in balancing postures. Stacking your joints, relaxing your shoulders down your back and keeping your core engaged will not only ensure you keep a solid foundation and focus, but it will also help you strengthen your muscle memory.
Have a Solid Foundation
Establishing a solid foundation is one of the most important steps in finding balance. When you stand on one foot, the standing leg is basically doing the work of two feet. Keeping this is mind, set up for balancing poses by rooting down your energy first. Make sure your “roots” (your footing) is on solid and stable ground. You can’t grow your tree without roots!
It’s Okay to Fall
Even those who have been practicing yoga for many years fall. Falling is a sign of exploration! Accepting that you might fall will automatically relax your mind, the most powerful element in balancing postures. When you inevitably wobble, get back up and try again. Acceptance and perseverance are both part of a growing yoga practice.
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