However, those benefits pale in comparison to what dogs can teach about this pose if we are willing to learn.
My dogs showed me the true nature of a downward facing dog pose. Who better qualified than the inventors of this pose? The picture you see is one of them. His name was Udhaya Suriyan that means rising sun.
Motions are how we transform and direct the energy we have gathered. Within motions, we express ourselves.
A downward facing dog pose without expression is an empty mental structure without a heart. Dogs are all about heart and a pose named after them is done more accurately when we remember that.
I have had the pleasure to be with dogs all my life. One of the most expressive poses they show is their downward facing posture. They use this pose to stretch just like cats do. However, dogs use the downward posture to indicate they are ready to play.
Love, unrestricted enthusiasm and energy flow from them when they go through their play-time downward facing pose. Many of them, yelp, randomly leap to one side, do silly circles and return to the same pose. They invite you to play, they offer everything they have as a partner without expectation of return.
The image I hold in my mind during downward facing dog is what I have learned from my four legged guides, friends and companions.
As I enter this position my gateway quadruped pose, I mentally go over the six major joints involved in this pose and take note of how energy leaks within these joints.
I know that mental, emotional and psychical restrictions get in the way of full expression. To express enthusiasm and readiness to play the way my dogs taught me, I need to remove these limitations.
Since my human form still binds me, I do pay attention to the nature of relationships.
- I know of the connection between freedom of ankle motions and my ability to squat and the link between my ability to squat and the health of my heart and the strength in my daily activities.
- I know how my hamstring tightness contributes to knee pain and how glutes tightness contributes to low back instability, pain, and injury.
- I enjoy lifting weights and know that clean and press motions is among the most effective cardiovascular endurance exercises, they build incredible strength in my whole body and burn a ton of calories in the middle. However, my ability to control and align my shoulders, my elbows, and my wrist is crucial to safe and efficient clean and press.
All these elements are part of the downward facing dog.
If I notice restrictions, pain or discomfort in any of these joints, I move to specific exercises that free my motions. My downward facing dog pose is an expression that I am ready to play and an invitation to others to come and play with me.