Adho Mukha svanasana is an arm balance, a partial inversion, and a restorative pose. It can be an active pose for stretching and strengthening various regions of the body or a pose we return to for resting during practice.
Below are some benefits of this wonderful pose:
When coming into this pose it's important to keep the hands shoulder distance apart and the feet hip distance apart. Check that the outer sides of the feet are parallel to the sides of the mat. Draw the heals towards the mat, it is perfectly fine if they don't touch the mat - with practice and time this will naturally happen. Bring your awareness to your hands. Are they flat againts the mat? Check that your entire palm is resting firmly into the mat, finger by finger including the thumbs. Think about pushing the mat away from you. Externally rotate your shoulders outwards keeping your arms straight. Bring your gaze to your naval or toward that direction.
This posture is known as a resting posture in yoga. Having the head beneath the heart makes this inversion a wonderful, safe, sturdy pose to practice the many benefits listed above. Remember to practice pranayama here, consciously breathing in and out, equal inhalations and exhalations. And above all, don't forget to smile!
Anatomical Description of Adho Mukha Svanasana
Arms and Shoulders
Triceps straighten the elbows. The front (anterior) deltoids lift the shoulders and arms over head. The infra spinatus anterior minor roll the shoulders outwards. The rhomboids and middle trapezius draw the shoulder blades towards the midline. The lower trapezius draws the shoulders away from the neck.
The erector spinae arches the back slightly. The abdominals contract to draw the internal organs inward and flex the trunk.
Pelvis and Legs
The psoas, pectineus, and sartorius combine to flex the hips and the trunk. The quadriceps straightens the knees stretching the hamstrings, gastrocnemius, soleus muscles. The tensor fascia lata aids in extending the knees and combines with the frontal portion of the gluteus medius and rotates the thighs inwards. The tibialis anterior and extensor halluces draw the top of the foot upward, causing the heel to sink to the ground, thus grounding the pose.
The Key poses of Yoga: Your guide to Functional Anatomy in yoga, by Ray Long
Yoga Anatomy, by Leslie Kaminoff
Anatomy of Yoga, By Angus and Robertson
There are many important skills, duties and responsibilities involved in the role of a yoga teacher. The following section is an outline of the considerations to study when choosing a good yoga teacher:
A good yoga teacher dedicates ones life to yoga – by study, practice and teaching.
A good yoga teacher guides the student without too many cues and adjustments. The main focus of yoga practice is uniting the mind, spirit and body through the breath or prana. The teacher commands the room like a conductor conducting an orchestra, with a confident voice that inspires students to work for the 60-90 minutes of the class with passion, clarity, integrity, ease, grace, authenticity, compassion, equanimity and love.
Service to others
Being a good teacher is very different from being a good practitioner. A good yoga teacher is one who wants to be of service to others, often dedicating ones life to the propagation of a correct yoga practice.
Strong personal practice
A good yoga teacher has a strong personal practice. Teachers should have a solid relationship with their own practice, so that they understand why they are teaching yoga and what they have to offer. Having a strong personal practice also allows the teacher to relate first handedly to the students experience for example when practicing asana the teacher will know how to adjust a student, or give the right cues to allow the student to achieve the right alignment.
Sri Pattabhi Jois writes “Yoga is 99 % practice and 1% theory”
Always a student
A good yoga teacher must always have a teacher. The reason for this is that the student always remains humble. There is so much to learn in life, it would be very arrogant to say one has reached a ‘know it all’ stage. There is always more to learn, so one should be humble in one's knowledge, and always keep learning, studying with other teachers.
Buddhist Philosopher Daisaku Ikeda writes “Without a mentor [teacher] in life, one can easily succumb to folly. Without a mentor [teacher] in life, one can easily become self-centered, capricious and arrogant.”
To teach something, study is essential. A good yoga teacher spends a large part of their life studying in order to propagate the right teaching of yoga.
Kundalini Yogi Bhajan says "If you want to learn something, read about it. If you want to understand something, write about it. If you want to master something, teach it."
Personal integrity (Authenticity)
A teacher must walk the talk, and be authentic in all aspects of life to be the example for the student. In other words, a teacher should not only be a teacher inside the class room, the teacher must be a teacher outside the classroom as well. There is no denial that the teacher is human and not some supernatural being, so their life does represent that of the human experience. However, the teacher must take responsibility for their actions (specially of what is taught!) to be the example to the student and those in the direct environment of the teacher.
On a personal note I feel great appreciation to my teachers who not only guide me in my practice, but also provide great inspiration in the way they carry their life. Each day I determine to be the best possible teacher I can be, guiding my students with the utmost respect and care they deserve.
Kundalini Research Institute
Yogi Times, What I look for in a yoga teacher by Isa Israel
The Shoulderstand Asana (Sarvangasana)
One great posture for extending the lower back is a the Shoulderstand. Shoulderstand (sarvangasana) is often referred to as the “queen of all yoga postures,” with Headstand being deemed the “King.”
The Benefits of Shoulderstand (sarvangasana)
It is said that some yoguis just practise this posture throughout their entire life. The pose can be held from 30 seconds to 30 minutes.
This posture is said to aid in curing the common cold to reducing constipation. This posture is therefor a ‘cure -all’ for most common ailments and should be practiced every day. Below are some of the benefits:
1. Balances hormones: Sarvangasana balances the thyroid and hypothalamus glands, allowing for proper hormone production.
2. Strengthens the heart and respiratory system: Due to the fact that the body is in an inverted position, shoulderstand reduces strain on the heart. Healthy blood can easily circulate around the neck and chest, and as a result, people with asthma, bronchitis and throat ailments may get relief.
3. Combats the common cold: Continued practice of this asana eradicates common colds and other nasal disturbances.
4. Soothes the nervous system: This pose has a soothing effect on the parasympathetic nervous system. Therefore, those easily irritated, or prone to anger or nervous breakdowns can be stabilized and less reactive to life’s circumstances.
5. Reduces constipation: The change in gravitational pull on the body affects the abdominal organs so that the bowels move freely and constipation is relieved.
6. Increased strength and flexibility: Shoulderstand strengthens the upper body, legs and abdomen. The posture opens the chest and stretches the neck, shoulders and upper back muscles.
7. Decreases varicose veins: Shoulderstand assist in draining old blood from the legs, pelvis and abdominal area, therefore reducing varicose veins.
8. Stimulates the Visuddah (Throat Chakra): Shoulderstand ignites the fifth chakra, which is associated with creativity and self-expression. When this chakra is open, our negative experiences can easily be transformed into wisdom and learning.
9. Reduces wrinkles: Due to increased blood flow to the face, wrinkles can be reduced. In addition, many practitioners notice an improved complexion with a consistent shoulderstand practice.
10. Aides in restful sleep: Shoulderstand promotes deep sleep and can assist in providing rest for people with insomnia.
Let me know what you think about this pose, I would love to hear from you.