As I move deeper into yoga as a teacher and still (always!) as a student too, I find myself in conversations and practices that not long ago would have been unfathomable. Yesterday was one of those times. Yesterday I spent just about an entire practice in Downward-facing Dog Pose, or Adho Mukha Shvanasana.
I think this started out with my instructor Briel suggesting I stretch out my legs in Down Dog so we could move on with our morning practice. Next thing you know we are having conversations about how Down Dog is cued by different instructors and practices, trying those implementations along the way. Most importantly, we examined how I should do it for my own body; a body with tight hamstrings, tilted pelvis, and a spine and neck exhibiting kyphosis. We snapped screen captures off my Zoom feed while I attempted all these Down Dog variations.
“You know this is supposed to be a resting pose.” I jokingly reminded Briel at one point, as I did Down Dog over and over and over, for almost ninety minutes. In fact, in Ashtanga yoga it is the point where you catch five breaths before you move on to the rest of that exhilarating practice. One of the pictures above is Down Dog after a full cycle of an Ashtanga Sun Salutation (Namaskara) A.
Now I cannot imagine ever teaching my own yoga students Down Dog for an hour and a half. It is good though, to go back and look at these foundational postures every now and then. Subtle shifts in our body and mind occur as our practice, as our life, evolves.
So next time your instructor, maybe me, tells you to go into that “simple” Down Dog, pause for a moment. Pause for five breaths worth of moments actually and think about which “Dog” is right for you.