Whether you’re new to your yoga practice or are an experienced professional, you may have been initially surprised by the amount of time you spend in the downward facing dog. It seems like an unlikely position, with your body arched upwards to form a triangle with the floor. What is there about this position that makes it so frequently used throughout all of the various styles of yoga?
The downward facing dog is one of the basics that will be essential to a regular yoga practice, no matter what style or level of experience you have. It is extremely beneficial for your mind and body, perhaps more than you think.
Increase In Blood Flow
Particularly for beginners who may not be comfortable with full inversions like the forearm stands or handstands, the downward facing dog is a gentler inversion. With your heart elevated above your head, it gets your blood circulating more actively and freely than in a traditional position. Of course, increased circulation comes with its own host of benefits, including:
- Detoxifying the body
- Supporting the immune system
- And managing blood pressure
Instant Energy Boost
Along with increasing your circulation, it should be noted that an increase in your blood flow will also give you an energy boost. The more your blood pumps through your veins, you can build more heat in your practice and feel energized more quickly. That is why a few rounds of sun salutations, with some extended time spent in the downward facing dog, could be a great way to begin your practice.
The downward facing dog is an excellent pose for any time of the day, especially if you struggle with finding the energy to step onto your mat. Whether you start your morning bright and early with tired eyes or end your evening after a 12-hour work day, this basic pose can give you a little bit more energy to make it through your entire sequence and move onto other activities for your daily life.
Strengthens The Entire Body
One of the primary reasons so many yogis adore the downward facing dog is because it offers an excellent and well-rounded way to strengthen the entire body. You can stretch out the backs of the legs, build strength in your shoulders and biceps, lengthen the spine, and tighten your abdominal muscles all at the same time. It is one of the few poses that allow for a thorough check-in with every part of the body.
Consider how you feel when you’re holding this position on your mat for five to 10 long breaths. You should feel your chest beginning to open and the lower part of your body stretch and extend more comfortably. Building overall strength in a well-balanced way is a great way to improve your practice all the way around.
While some yogis can find the downward facing dog to be uncomfortable with their hips hoisted high into the air, it really is a beneficial part of the practice. It provides a source of strength, energy, and better blood flow which can improve every part of your daily life.