Downward Facing Dog Pose

Yoga Pose: Downward Facing Dog

Pose of the Month:  Downward Facing Dog Pose

Sanskrit:  Adho Mukha Svanasana

How to Pronounce:  (AH-DO MOO-KAH-SHVA-NAH-SUN-UH)

Downward facing dog pose may be the quintessential pose that comes to mind when yoga comes up in conversation.  This pose, no matter how foundational it may be or how many times you practice it, is filled with endless opportunities to learn and adapt.  After learning the basics of the posture, we can discover more length and levels of comfort that you can bring onto your mat every time you come into this pose.

Instructions:

  1. Come to table top position placing your hands shoulder width apart and knees hip distance apart
  2. Spread the fingers and align middle fingers and wrist creases forward
  3. Press evenly through the fingers, knuckles and outer edges of the hands
  4. Tuck your toes under so the balls of your feet press into the mat
  5. Press into the hands while lifting the hips to create an inverted triangle shape with the body
  6. Reach the heels without rounding the back to feel a stretching sensation in the back of the legs
  7. Lengthen equally through the side body
  8. Roll the shoulder blades down the back and open the collar bone to allow more space in the heart center
  9. Align the ears with the biceps while externally rotating the inner elbows forward
  10. Look between your knees and soften your gaze
  11. Breathe deeply 4-8 breaths
  12. To release bend the knees and lower into table top or come all the way down to Child’s Pose

Benefits:

  • Deeply stretches the back and opens the chest
  • Builds upper body strength
  • Mild inversion
  • Stimulates the brain and nervous system improving memory, concentration, hearing and eyesight

Contraindications:

  • Recent or chronic injury to the back, hips, arms or shoulders
  • Unmediated high blood pressure
  • Not advisable for eye injuries and glaucoma

Mindfulness

  • Downward dog is meant to be practiced with a neutral spine respecting the “s” curves of the lumber, thoracic and cervical vertebrae
  • However, many lack flexibility in the hamstrings and end up compensating by flexing (rounding) the lower back which can lead to injury
  • We can access the “s” curve by bending the knees and lifting through the hips while creating the proper hinge at the hip

Modifications:

  • Use blocks under the hands or head
  • Place a folded towel under the wrists
  • Press both heels against a wall
  • Roll a blanket under the heels

Variations:

  • One Leg Downward Dog with internal or external rotation of the extended leg/hip
  • Downward Dog Twist
  • Dolphin Pose

Vinyasa Sequence Suggestions:

  • Build a sequence leading up to this pose:  Table Top, Cat, Cow, Head to Knee movement (Tiger), Bear Plank
  • Build a sequence ending after this pose:  Plank, Upward Facing Dog, Childs, High Lunge

Try a class in our new boutique yoga studio, The Practice.

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#NoFryDay

May 31, 2019 is National Heat Awareness Day or #NoFryDay.

Heat Illnesses Can be Fatal – Would You Know What to Do?

Did you know your body is constantly in a struggle to disperse the heat it produces? Most of the time, you’re hardly aware of it – unless your body is exposed to more heat than it can handle. In 2017, 87 people died in the U.S. from exposure to excessive heat, according to Injury Facts, the annual statistical report on unintentional injuries produced by the National Safety Council. Heat-related illnesses can escalate rapidly, leading to delirium, organ damage and even death.

There are several heat-related illnesses, including heatstroke (the most severe), heat exhaustion and heat cramps. Those most at risk include:

  • Infants and young children
  • Elderly people
  • Pets
  • Individuals with heart or circulatory problems or other long-term illness
  • People who work outdoors
  • Athletes and people who like to exercise – especially beginners
  • Individuals taking medications that alter sweat production
  • Alcoholics and drug abusers
  • Heat Stroke

Seek medical help immediately if someone is suffering from heat stroke. Signs and symptoms include flushed skin that is very hot to the touch; rapid breathing; headache, dizziness, confusion or irrational behavior; and convulsions or unresponsiveness. The victim also will likely have stopped sweating. Do not hesitate to take action:

  • Call 911 immediately
  • Move the victim to a cool place
  • Remove outer clothing
  • Immediately cool the victim with any means at hand, preferably by immersing up to the neck in cold water (with the help of a second rescuer)
  • If immersion in cold water is not possible, place the victim in a cold shower or move to a cool area and cover as much of the body as possible with cold, wet towels
  • Do not try to force the victim to drink liquids
  • Monitor the victim’s breathing and be ready to give CPR if needed

Heat Exhaustion

When the body loses an excessive amount of salt and water, heat exhaustion can set in. People who work outdoors and athletes are particularly susceptible. Symptoms are similar to those of the flu and can include severe thirst, fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting and, sometimes, diarrhea. Other symptoms include profuse sweating, clammy or pale skin, dizziness, rapid pulse and normal or slightly elevated body temperature. Uncontrolled heat exhaustion can evolve into heatstroke, so make sure to treat the victim quickly.

  • Move them to a shaded or air-conditioned area
  • Give them water or other cool, nonalcoholic beverages
  • Apply wet towels or having them take a cool shower

Heat Cramps

Heat cramps are muscle spasms that usually affect the legs or abdominal muscles, often after physical activity. Excessive sweating reduces salt levels in the body, which can result in heat cramps.

Workers or athletes with pain or spasms in the abdomen, arms or legs should not return to work for a few hours. Instead:

The best way to avoid a heat-related illness is to limit exposure outdoors during hot days. Air conditioning is the best way to cool off, according to the CDC. Also:

  • Drink more liquid than you think you need and avoid alcohol
  • Wear loose, lightweight clothing and a hat
  • Replace salt lost from sweating by drinking fruit juice or sports drinks
  • Avoid spending time outdoors during the hottest part of the day, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Wear sunscreen; sunburn affects the body’s ability to cool itself
  • Pace yourself when you run or otherwise exert your body

If you have questions or concerns about heat exhaustion, please consult your primary care physician. If you have questions about how to keep your body hydrated during the summer, schedule a nutrition consultation with our Registered Dietitian, Lisa James by filling out the form below!

This blog was originally published by the National Safety Council on www.nsc.org.