Beginner Yoga: How to do Downward Facing Dog, Yoga with Melissa 154

by Melissa West on December 1, 2012

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Yoga with Melissa 154 Yoga for Beginners: Downward Facing Dog: Adho Mukha Svanasana

Props Needed: Yoga Mat and Yoga Strap

Yoga Postures/Asanas: savasana (corpse pose), wrist stretches, supta pandangusthasana (reclined hand to toe pose), Cat Pose (marjaryasana), Puppy (Anahatasana), Eagle’s Arms (Garudasana), Cow’s Face Arms (Gomukasana), Adho Mukha Svanasana, Downward Facing Dog and variations, Balasana (Child’s pose), savasana

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Welcome to Yoga with Melissa, I’m so happy you’ve decided to try a beginner yoga class. Whether this is your first class or you are a seasoned practitioner with beginner’s mind all are welcome here.

Downward facing dog is the quintessential yoga pose. I remember the first time I tried it in a yoga class and the teacher called it a “rest” pose. I thought I was going to die! I thought it was important to take a whole class dedicated to demystifying this important and often prevalent yoga posture in a beginner yoga class. This yoga pose has many physical benefits. It improves digestion; relieves insomnia, menstrual and menopausal discomfort, and low back pain; strengthens your arms, legs and torso; stretches your palms, fingers, chest, back, hamstrings, calves and feet, and it energizes your body. Mentally it improves focus; develops willpower; stimulates your mind; and relieves stress and mild anxiety. This pose should not be practiced by people with carpal tunnel syndrome, high blood pressure and headaches.

What to expect: I will begin by sharing what to expect in this yoga class. You will start by lying down on your back in savasana/corpse pose, which is just a fancy way of saying you will lie on your back on the floor. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, it allows you to transition from the multi-dimensional focus and demands of your day to day life to the singular focus of your yoga practice. During your time on your yoga mat you will have the luxury of just focusing on you. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Secondly it gives you an opportunity to settle in and center yourself. I will guide you in this process by asking you to focus on your breath. Finally it gives your body a chance to let go to the pull of gravity. The muscular tension of your body can already begin to release here even before you begin practicing yoga postures.

After savasana you will stay lying on your back for some “warm-up” postures, not in the sense to warm-up your body like doing a cardio warm-up, but more to prepare your body for other postures to come. In today’s class you will prepare your body by stretching out your hamstrings, wrists, fingers and shoulders to prepare for downward facing dog.

We will gradually make our way from lying down to kneeling and standing. We will practice downward facing dog first from standing using the prop of a wall or a chair to make the pose easier. We will counter downward facing dog with child’s pose today a nice restorative pose to rest in after downward facing dog pose. There will be several different variations of downward facing dog for you to try in this class. Your practice ends again with savasana/corpse pose, deep relaxation in order to integrate and receive your yoga practice deeply into your body.

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