I have become one of the scary people, a devotee. I belong to the cult of Downward Dog. The only thing I have going for me is that I don’t try to convert anyone. I offer child’s pose when I teach. I soothe sore arms and unwilling hamstrings with the reassurance that this pose will feel weird “the first year or so”, but secretly I would LOVE to rattle on about how good this is.
First you give yourself permission to just hang, crown towards the floor, arching into a backbend, you sigh….
Then you start to claim the pose. First you work your fingers, mastering any slippery mat like a starfish. You bend your knees slightly, taking the stretch from your hamstrings and boosting your spine to lengthen instead. You start to rotate your shoulderblades out, feeling your upperback broaden. Suddenly there is so much space around your head, and your side waists, along the ribs, are lengthening. You smile blissfully and start eagerly reaching for the floor with your heels, looking forward to that deep stretch all along the backs of the legs.
Vinyasa yoga, flow yoga, or power yoga, three commonly used names to indicate that yoga poses are linked together, all use Downward Facing dog as their home-base. Often a series starts by lifting one leg up (with variations of opening the hip, or keeping it square) and then stepping the foot forward, moving into lunges, warriors, triangles or other standing poses. The series finishes in downward dog, and then you lift the other leg and do the other side.
By starting and ending in downward facing dog, flow yoga provides a much more interesting way of doing yoga, then when you practice the poses separately starting from a standing position. Next to standing poses, downward dog also allows you to incorporate a variety of plank poses, pigeon pose and split, into the series.
This 12 minute flow yoga series is called Wednesday, and it contains a standing pose series, a pigeon pose, a camel pose (followed by a child’s pose), seated poses and inversions. The series is not recommended when you are in your period.