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Upside-down Dog

Turning yourself “upside down” is a good thing. Too often, we live our lives from the neck up, and by thinking too much we lose the moment and our connection to our bodies. Many of our physical problems actually arise simply because we live too much in our heads. When you turn your world upside down, symbolically & metaphorically, you change that. This yoga asana is excellent medicine for anxiety, obsessiveness and an ego that’s stuck or unyielding.

Inversions (a type of asana in which the feet are lifted higher than the heart) have many other health benefits. The inversion of the circulatory system and the flushing out of venous blood brings an increase in blood flow to the brain and a general feeling of well being. The endrocrine glands, the digestive system and the lymphatic system are also cleansed and re-vitalized. In order to do this very wonderful modification of the Downward Dog asana, you will need a wall and a mat (please don’t do it at a tree in the park unless you are very accomplished!). Begin by assuming your full downward dog position with your heels against the wall and your body coming out at 90 degrees along your mat. From a very strong downward dog, lift one leg at a time up the wall until your legs are in line with your hips. You will need good upper body strength to carry this pose off so be sure you are ready. Keep pressing your heels into the wall to activate the hips and remember to breathe. Allow your head to let go giving yourself full permission to trust and to explore your own strength and concentration.

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Arms at the Wall Dog

Arms at the wall (or tree) is a modification for the downward dog asana if you have a lot of wrist issues. This asana modification is also an excellent way to relieve stress in the shoulders and spine at your office, in the grocery line up or at home in the kitchen between peeling and chopping. Notice that the same action occurs in the arms – active hands – all knuckles pressed in, heel of the hand firmly connecting with the surface, and upper shoulders rolled out via the drawing down and broadening of the shoulder blades. Again you are getting all of the benefits of downward dog as your head is lower than your heart.

Continue to breathe and allow that “hollow feeling” in your lower belly. You will need to pay attention to keeping the thighs active by continually lifting the knee caps so as to emphasize the forward rotation of the pelvic floor. This is an asana you can do at the office, in the kitchen or at the park with out any to-do. Simply find the surface where you will place your hands, making sure it is hip height. Then walk yourself back until your arms are straight. Feel as you bend forward that you are “turning the dial” in your pelvis until your back is flat and the same plane as the surface beneath you – you may need to “walk ” your feet back or forward to adjust so your feet are directly under your hips, and your shoulders and hips are on the same plane. Always think of stacking your joints, so they are fully supported. Again breathe and release the jaw with a big – ahhh. Excellent!