5 Hidden Benefits of Downward-Facing Dog

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If you’ve attended a yoga class, you’ve probably done downward-facing dog pose. Downward-facing dog is a foundational pose found in various vinyasa yoga flows, and for many of us, we initially feel the stretch in the arms, the back, and the legs. That’s the obvious, but there are so many other benefits to exploring downward-facing dog. Downward-facing dog is a very challenging pose, as the muscles are working to hold the pose against gravity.

5 Hidden Benefits of Downward Facing Dog:

Strengthens Abdominal Muscles

Envision turning downward-facing dog right side up into boat pose. Just as you would with boat pose, engaging the belly in downward-facing dog strengthens and abdominal muscles that support the spine.

Improves Circulation

Many tend to forget that downward-facing dog is an inversion! As the hips lift and the head drops below the heart, the pull of gravity is reversed and fresh blood flows, aiding in circulation.

Improves Digestion

Although downward-facing dog is not a full bend or fold, the pose does allow for slight abdominal compression by drawing the navel into the spine. The pose compresses the organs like the kidneys, liver and the spleen, aiding in digestion.

Tones the hands and feet

Downward-facing dog is weight-bearing pose that prepares hands and feet for standing and arm balancing poses.

Decreases Anxiety

Stretching the cervical spine and the neck allows the head and your mind to relax.

So the next time you’re in downward-facing dog, enjoy the obvious and not-so-obvious benefits of the pose!



Yoga Poses to Ease Digestive Discomfort

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If you’re one of the many American who suffers from occasional digestive discomfort, yoga offers a natural way to get relief. Just as you would adapt your diet to address your needs, try including some of these poses into your regular practice.

Cat-Cow – Marjaryasana-Bitilasana

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  • Improves posture and balance
  • Strengthens and stretches the spine and neck
  • Stretches the hips, abdomen and bac
  • Increases coordination
  • Massages and stimulates organs in the belly, like the kidneys and adrenal glands.
  • Relieves stress and calms the mind

 

Downward-Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress
  • Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands
  • Strengthens the arms and legs
  • Relieves headache, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue
  • Therapeutic for high blood pressure
  • Helps prevent osteoporosis

 

Extended Puppy Pose – Uttana Shishosana

  • Releases tension in you upper arms, shoulders, and neck
  • Expands the whole front of your chest
  • Stretches out your abdominal muscles
  • Gently stimulates your back muscles in preparation for further backbends
  • Opens up your hips and stretches your hamstrings

 

Bridge Pose – Setu Bandha Saravangasana

  • Streches your chest, neck, spine, and hips
  • Strengthens your back, buttocks, and hamstring muscles
  • Calms your brain and central nervous system
  • Alleviates stress and mild depression
  • Massages abdominal organs and improves digestion/li>
  • Relieves the symptoms of menopause
  • Reduces anxiety, backaches, headaches, and insomnia

 

Wind-Relieving Pose – Ardha Pawanmuktasana

  • Stretches the neck and back
  • Pressure on the abdomen releases any trapped gases in the large intestine
  • Blood circulation is increased to all the internal organs
  • Relieves constipation
  • Strengthens the back and abdominal muscles
  • Massages the intestines and other organs in the abdomen
  • Eases tension in the lower back
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