5 Hidden Benefits of Downward-Facing Dog
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.
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.
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.
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!
Beginner Hatha Yoga Poses
Hatha Yoga is the path of Physical Yoga or Yoga of Postures is the most popular branch of Yoga. This style of yoga considers the body as the vehicle for the soul. It uses physical poses or asanas, breathing techniques or pranayama, and meditation in order to bring the body in perfect health and for the more subtle spiritual elements of the mind to emerge freely. The practice of Hatha Yoga will aim for the union of the body and the soul, to fill the body with life force. Swami Svatmarama believed that the regular practice of Hatha Yoga asanas could give “steadiness, health, and lightness of body.”
Virasana (Hero’s pose) stretches the ankles, gluteal muscles, and other smaller muscles in the hips. Also, therapeutic for high blood pressure and asthma
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika lists a number of specific benefits for Matsyendrasana (the Lord of the Fishes Pose). These benefits include increased appetite, the destruction of multiple diseases, and the awakening of kundalini energy.
Paschimottanasana (the Intense Back Stretch) is a deep stretch for the entire posterior chain of the body. The posture creates openness in the calves and hamstrings and can relieve tension in the back muscles as well.
Dhanurasana (the Bow Pose) stretches the hip flexors, abdominals, chest, and shoulders. The posture also strengthens the back muscles.