My yogi told me one day… “When I teach yoga in corporate settings, I get this question fairly often:”
“If I only have time for one yoga pose, what should it be?”
Well, don’t we all want the answer to this question, so let’s get to it. I think almost every yoga instructor will suggest you the downward-facing dog. We love having a full hour at work to stretch, strengthen and rejuvenate. And return to our desks with renewed energy and peaceful mindsets. Therefore, we naturally want to know if there are smaller, more manageable ways to help create the same experience between classes.
The Downward Facing Dog
Downward Facing Dog, is a pose that is physically accessible to nearly everyone. It offers so many benefits in one simple shape. For example, the chance to lengthen the spine, connect with and release the entire back of your body. We are so neglected about our posture when we sit all day in office chairs. It works your core muscles, relaxes your shoulders, strengthens your arms and legs, and inverts so your head is below your heart. So that oxygenated blood can flow to your brain. A few minutes in Downward Facing Dog can be as energizing as a shot of espresso. However, with no risk of keeping you up all night.
How to pose?
Bend down and place your hands flat on the floor or mat, shoulder-width apart, fingers facing straight ahead. Walk your feet back behind you, leaving your hands exactly where they are. Keep your rear-end high in the air like a puppeteer were holding you up by a string. Once you’ve walked back far enough so that your arms and legs are as straight as possible, but you are still reaching your rear end toward the ceiling as high as possible, check to see that your feet are hip-width apart.
This tent-like shape is the outline of your downward-facing Dog. You can focus on the details: notice all ten fingers and all ten toes and feel each one pressing down into the mat. It’s okay if your heels don’t touch down or your knees are slightly bent you might have tight hamstrings, and if you continue to practice this pose, they will release over time. Keep your abdominal muscles working by pulling your navel in and up toward your spine; this move will also help take the pressure out of your wrists. Are your shoulders hunching toward your ears? Try to relax them by drawing the shoulder blades together in the center of your back. Allow the back of your neck to lengthen by keeping your head directly between your upper arms and gaze back at your legs or feet.
Take five deep inhales and exhales in this pose, noticing how the breath fills your belly, ribcage, back, and chest on the way in and how you can re-engage your abdominals by bringing your navel even closer to your spine on the way out. Then come down to all fours and rest here for several breaths before taking the pose again. Repeat the process three to five times.
When you come back to sit at your desk after downward-facing dog practice, take a moment to appreciate the energy moving through your body due to your efforts. And don’t forget to put your shoes back on before your next meeting! If you want to try some other yoga poses click here to read this article.
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