Happy Healthy and Fit

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Downward Facing Dog~ Strengthen to Lengthen in Yoga, Love and Life

The practice of yoga is often associated with flexibility. It is common to think that you should practice yoga to increase your range of movement and motion. The physical practice of Yoga is certainly great for increasing flexibility, but truly is just a gateway to so much more. Yoga is the path to Love.

I love when I have breakthroughs in yoga; they are really breakthroughs in life. What generally starts as a physical breakthrough soon translates into emotional, intellectual and spiritual breakthroughs.

While practicing Ashtanga yoga, I had an amazing breakthrough in downward facing dog. This pose is one of the first that you will learn in many styles of yoga. From the outside it appears that your hands are shoulders distance apart and your feet are hips distance apart while you press evenly though your hands and fingers and lift your hips high while pressing your feet down low to create length in the spine. As if that isn't enough, there is a whole inner spiral going on with your thighs and outward spiral with the shoulders moving down and back and be sure to breath.

The best part is that downward facing dog is designed to be a resting pose. After 15 years of practicing yoga, yesterday it clicked. If I really push my femurs into the socket and engage the joint, I can create an anchor to safely move deeper into lengthening my hamstrings. Suddenly, it made perfect sense. Not only, could I move deeper into the muscles, but engaging the joints brings freshly-oxygenated blood there to strengthen and rejuvenate the tissue. I could actually feel this process happening.

It is the solid connection between a table top and table legs that allow it to withstand loads of weight and pressure without breaking. If the screws are loose, the whole assembly will crash under the slightest of pressure. The same is true of your personal relationships. It is the heart connection that creates the stability, trust, structure and longevity. Showing up in spirit will allow your relationship to stand the test of time. To just show up in body alone, is the equivalent of a table top balanced on 4 legs or downward dog without solid joint engagement. It may appear like a table, but will crumble when the wind blows. It may appear like downward facing dog, but you are shortchanging your potential.

If I can make amazing breakthroughs in yoga after practicing daily for 15 years, I challenge you to make breakthroughs in your personal relationships today. Just as downward facing dog is a resting pose, your personal relationship is where you connect to stretch, anything else is a struggle against the most natural feeling in the world~ Love. So ask yourself, if you have been showing up completely engaged to yoga on your mat and yoga off your mat. Notice where you can improve the quality of your practice today.

Allow your body to be your teacher. The way you move is the way you live. Being Happy Healthy and Fit means knowing the best time to be fully engaged is right here, right Now.

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