Downward Dog

I have no idea why I love Downward Dog — or it’s official name, Adho Mukha Svanasana.

It is just such a welcome break from more difficult stretches and twists in my Iyengar practice. I have come to love Downward Facing Dog almost as much as Savasana (the Corpse) Pose — my absolute favorite.

When we return to Downward Dog, it is like my body has met an old friend, an old comfortable dog. The pose is almost as good as a lounge chair on a beach in Akumal, Mexico.

It is familiar. My feet flat on the floor, my head in line with my arms. I can find myself in that space easily. I do it well.

I also feel — and I have no proof of this — that my waist is actively shrinking when I am in Downward Dog. Something about this pose makes me feel, “Ah, this is good. I like yoga. I like my body and what it does.”

It is a healthy feeling; I am doing good. Like eating a huge, yummy spinach salad for lunch instead of a cheeseburger.

I have been entering Downward Dog since I was in Seventh grade and took yoga at the Park Ridge YMCA, which is now the Park Ridge Community Center in suburban Chicago. That was 35 years ago.

I have always loved this pose, too, because of its silly name. For the life of me, I cannot see how this pose has anything to do with a down dog. What does a down dog look like any way? Ah well, I love the alliteration of Down Dog. Just go with it.

And I love coming out of this pose because I know Child Pose is coming along somewhere soon. Yes, Child Pose is down the road from Down Dog Pose. Ah, Child Pose, another old and beloved friend.

I have a lot of stress in my life — sick husband, three school-age kids, full time job. But there is something about Down Dog that makes me feel, I am up to the tasks of this crazy life.

There are many things I cannot control in my life. Many things I do badly, many cakes I only half-bake. But not Down Dog. That, I can do. And do well. And as I enter, rest in, and exit this pose, I am at one and the same time, resting and striving. It is a good place to be.

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