Downward Dog

I don’t know if you have tried yoga before, but I would highly recommend it no matter your fitness level. I work at a desk job. I hate to admit that aloud because I always swore off of such a job during college. But here I am. A desk potato. Much to my chagrin.

Yoga feels so good after being stiff and still in a chair all day. It even elevates my mood. There’s just something so good about taking an hour out of your day to relax and be grateful for yourself.

Now, if you’re looking around the room at the accomplishments of everyone else instead of focusing on training your own body, you’ll probably end up feeling incompetent. The key in yoga is to focus inward.

If you’re a competitive person like me, you may have the tendency to go farther in the stretch than the person next to you. It’s always better to do what you are comfortable and able to do so that you don’t hurt yourself. The real competition is with yourself. Sometimes you have to push yourself a little farther to get the improvement you need, but it shouldn’t be painful.

My former yoga instructor (she’s since moved) used to keep us in the pose called Downward Dog. It is deceiving in that it looks easy, but I find it to be one of the most challenging poses for someone just starting out in yoga. Basically, you are on all fours, creating an equilateral triangle with your body (at least ideally). Your hips should be up, heels down, fingers spread, and your head hanging loosely. My instructor would keep us there for several breaths while she walked around the room and helped us correct the position of our hands and feet.

Downward Dog is an active pose; there are many muscles engaged in this pose. Maybe that’s part of why I like it. It’s more efficient and I feel like in encompasses many health benefits into one pose.

Another thing I like about Downward Dog is that you are supposed to relax your neck and just let your head hang. And if you are looking around the room at everyone else, you can’t really relax your neck. So you have a wonderful opportunity to really focus inward without paying attention to the distractions around you.

This is such a good metaphor for life. We should all spend a little more time focusing inward, fine-tuning the little things that make a big difference, and learning to ignore the petty distractions that surround us.

Namaste!

Photo credit: myyogaonline / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Photo credit: myyogaonline / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

 

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