5 Reasons to Practice Downward Dog Every Day


5 Reasons To Practice Downward Dog Every Day

ARE YOU DOING IT RIGHT?10 Alignment Tips To Improve Your Downward Dog

Downward Facing Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana, is one of the most commonly practiced and most iconic yoga postures around. In fact, I would be willing to bet that when most people think of ‘yoga,’ this pose naturally comes to mind.

But how often do you pause and really take the time to dig into your Downward Dog, to really allow it to nourish and nurture your body?

This pose has so many health benefits, and deserves to be so much more than a transition pose—which it so often turns into. Here are five reasons why you should mindfully practice this pose every day.

1. Opens the Backs of the Legs

Walking, running, moving around, standing – most of the things we do during the day bring tension to the backs of the legs. This is why so many of us walk around with chronically overly tight hamstrings and calf muscles.

Downward Facing Dog is an awesome posture for opening the backs of the legs because you have gravity to help you, and it is very easy to keep your spine in a beneficial position in this stretch.

Keeping the spine long is not always so easy with other back body-openers like seated forward folds. With this pose, you get that opening without compromising other areas of your body.

2. Elongates the Spine

The traction you get from planting your feet and then pushing your hands strongly into your mat is one of the best spinal elongation tools the yoga asana practice has to offer.

Using gravity as your friend, you will be reversing the usual downward pressure on the spine, helping to gently re-align the vertebra in a natural, easy way.

Downward Facing Dog offers all the benefits of an inversion on the spine, without having to fully go upside-down—which is great for anyone who has neck or shoulder injuries, or just doesn’t yet have the strength to safely hang out inverted.

3. Brings Awareness to Your Breathing

Because this pose is not a very complicated one, and thus there’s less chance of injury, you can really slow down in it and take some time to tune into your breath.

If you are someone who finds seated meditation to be painful on your body or otherwise challenging, utilizing Downward Dog as a place to tune in is an awesome option.

Your breath is what carries you, so any moment you can take time to pay extra attention to it is a moment well spent.

4. Strengthens and Opens the Chest

Downward Dog is one of the best postures for the chest muscles. Most of us who sit in a chair all day have chest muscles that are overly tight, but not necessarily all that strong.

This comes due to the ‘hunched’ position most of us hang out in all day. Downward Facing Dog will help you to re-establish some opening in your chest muscles, as well as help you cultivate much-needed strength in this area of your body.

This new opening and strength will help reduce pain and pressure in the shoulders and upper back, and it will help you develop the strength you need to practice more advanced asana like inversions and arm balances.

5. Strengthens the Arms

Finally, who can’t use a little arm-strengthening love? This pose is awesome for increasing your upper body strength in general, and your arm strength in particular—as long as you’re practicing the posture properly!

It’s easy to dump all your weight onto your shoulders and chest in this pose, which of course isn’t going to do much for your arms.

If you can bring your attention to really pressing your hands into your mat, and rolling your biceps away from your ears, you will get awesome muscular engagement throughout your whole arm, which in turn will help build strength and stamina in all of your muscles.

Do you mindfully practice this pose on a regular basis? What are some of the things you notice happening in your body when you do?

Slow down…Do yoga…lose weight (from Sadie Nardini post 11/5/11)

Posted on November 5, 2011. Filed under: Exercise/Personal Training, yoga/pilates |

Yoga Can, and will help you lose weight

 I see many clients every single week and I have noticed a commonality within all my type A, highly driven, ambitious over-achieving clients who are trying to lose 5, 10, 20, 30, 40lbs – you are all stuck in a rut with your bootcamps, obsessive running, P90x, Insanity and yes sometimes even too much of my Sculpted class and can’t lose weight. You might weigh yourself everyday and glare at the scale in disbelief because your heart rate monitor tells you that you just burned 500 calories and yet week after week you see no change on that darn scale.

Now, you might get a little irritated from me telling you this, but that’s precisely what you need to hear right now. Wanna know the secret to reaching your goals (provided they are reasonable and you are not being overly-critical of your perfectly healthy body), you need to CHILL OUT. Yes, it’s that simple. And how do you do this? Get yourself on a yoga mat and get yourself to a class.

I know what you are thinking right now. No I’m not a mind reader but over the past few years I’ve heard the Type A personalities tell me countless times “Yoga is not for me, I don’t feel like I get a workout at all and I can’t relax, I find myself bored”. Sound familiar? I’m not poking fun at you. That used to be my opinion too. I thought yoga was for crunchu granola-types who really enjoyed humming to themselves…

I thought it wasn’t for me because I loved (and still do) the running high, always moving at 150% in everything I did. Until about 9 years ago, during a time when I was running 5 days per week and teaching 9 classes per week plus lifting weights 3 other days per week. I walked into a class led by ‘my’ teacher Theresa that completely changed the way I felt about yoga. She moved us in a way that both challenged and calmed my body and my mind.

Here’s the deal. Over-achievers tend to be in constant sympathetic nervous mode, just like I was and it makes it nearly impossible to lose weight. Sure you might have an initial weight loss of a few pounds, especially if you are working long hours and barely eating, but that will eventually catch up to you. Your body will start to get used to the famine-mode and go into starvation-mode holding on to every calorie your consume because it’s fears it will need to go into survival mode again.

Now you naysayers might be reading this thinking that cortisol, the main stress hormone is catabolic (break-down), while this might be true, the effect in the long-term of high stress promotes weight gain. Why? Various reasons for this to happen. Cortisol, if constantly elevated, can wreak havoc on all your other hormones like insulin and your appetite control hormones. Or worse, you burn out your adrenals which can negatively impact your thyroid. The thyroid is an extremely important organ for managing your metabolic rate.

If your cortisol is high all day from your demanding job, the best thing to do is chill out with a yoga class to LOWER stress. More often then not though, you end your day with a stress-inducing long run further elevating your cortisol, then guess what happens? You crave comfort-carbs. Cortisol does a mighty fine job at lowering serotonin which is a neurotransmitter responsible for appetite control, keeping you calm, satisfied and joyous. So because the body is so incredibly brilliant, it will crave carbs to get that artificial feeling of calmness from carbs. Of all my sugar-addicted clients, the ones who seem to struggle with this addiction the most (sugar cravings = alcohol abuse, excessive eating of refined carbs, or carbs of any nature really, candy, baked goods etc) are often the ones beating up their bodies on the treadmill or going to five bootcamps a week.

It’s all about balance. You become so incredibly reconnected and acquainted with your body when you slow down that it helps your body lose that excess weight it’s hold on to. Learning to let go is one of the hardest things to do. But when you do, when you slooooooooooow down, you learn to love yourself more, honour how you are truly feeling and CHILL OUT.

Now what are you waiting for? Get a mat and get your ASANA to class




A study by York University scientists has unfolded that yoga seemingly decreases the physical and psychological effects of chronic pain in women suffering from fibromyalgia.

I have Fibromyalgia (FM); that is what brought me to yoga.  Yoga worked for me.  Chronic pain became less, muscle stiffness became less and I found I had increased energy and stamina.  However, this didn’t all happen for me overnight.  I started by taking 4 – 1 1/2 hour classes per week, plus I did yoga at home.   The improvement in my overall well-being took several months for me to realize.  Is the FM gone?  No.  Do I continue to have pain, stiffness and fatigue?  Yes.  But…the flare-ups are less frequent and when I do have increased pain, stiffness and fatigue I rely on my yoga, continued exercise (exercise as gentle as walking and swimming) and extra rest to get me through.  FM no longer controls me; I control it. 

Click on the link below to read just one of many studies regarding Yoga and FM.

How to make GHEE (clarified butter)

Never stir the butter while it is cooking, and keep a close eye on the color so that the ghee doesn’t burn.

Melt one pound of unsalted butter in a sauce pan on medium heat.  The better the butter, the better the ghee, so try to use organic butter.  As the butter melts it will begin to boil and separate (white froth on top with sediment settling to the bottom of pan.)  Keep the butter boiling steadily.  Do not stir.  Allow the butter to continue to cook until the bubbling noise quiets down, the sediment at the bottom of the pan starts to turn golden brown (you can check the color of the sediment by gently tilting the pan), and the liquid under the froth begins to turn an amber color.  (This process usually takes about 20 minutes.)  The smell will be something like fresh baked bread or popcorn.  All these signs indicate that all the water has evaporated, and that you must turn off the heat immediately or the ghee will burn quickly.  Leave the cooked ghee to cool for half an hour, then line a strainer with cheese cloth and strain the ghee into sterilized containers.  Discard the sediment.  The ghee will turn hard when cooled and look yellow in color.  If properly made, ghee will keep for over a year, even if stored outside of the refrigerator.

Yoga mat spray recipe

16 oz Witch Hazel  and 16 oz Water (distilled or boil and cool first)

16 drops Tea Tree Oil

  6 drops Lavendar Oil

  2 drops Lemongrass Oil

Mix and pour into spray bottle

Cleans and sanitizes mat without leaving sticky build-up.  SMELLS GREAT!

Jennifer Aniston credits yoga for her rockin’ bod!

The 42-year-old actress thanked her yoga teacher Mandy Ingber for her rockin’ bod and vowed to “keep downward dogging until the fat lady sings.”

Yoga and Pilates may help ease some symptoms of multiple sclerosis

“Many people with MS report benefits from yoga,” she said, “including increased flexibility and decreased spasticity, and decreased fatigue. Swimming in a cool (not more than 85 degrees) pool is excellent exercise and provides an aerobic workout without someone becoming overheated. A pool also allows people with weak muscles to exercise those muscles in a gravity-free environment and perform motions they would not be able to do on land. Some who have MS also report that they derive benefit from Pilates-type workouts for core strength and flexibility.”

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Why do yoga?

The short answer is that yoga makes you feel better. Practicing the postures, breathing exercises and meditation makes you healthier in body, mind and spirit. Yoga lets you tune in, chill out, shape up — all at the same time.

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Your Highest Potential with Yoga

Could it possibly be that you have something inside you that is dying to express your potential, but you are afraid to let it out? Often times instead of facing the reality and being 100% responsible for our lives, we hide from ourselves and blame others. We begin to only see our weakness and not our strengths. Our focus goes to what not all peaches and cream.

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