This article about yogi’s best friend has been wagging around the interwebs for the past week. As it turns out, Downward Facing Dog (or adho mukha svanasana for the Sanskrit dorks) isn’t just a good stretch for your spine (and a pose you either love or hate depending on the tightness of your shoulders and/or hamstrings). It’s also got some awesome extra overall health benefits you probably had no idea about.
So what makes down dog so good? You guessed it, the Bladder channel! Oh, you didn’t guess that? Keep reading.
According to acupuncturist and editor of website AcuTake, Sara Calandro, the D dog takes care of the whole body by activating the “Bladder channel.”
The Bladder channel, sometimes referred to as tai yang, is the longest channel in the body. It has 67 acupuncture points that run from the inner eye, up and over the head, down the entire spine and posterior leg, along the side of the foot and ending at the pinkie toe.
The location of the Bladder channel is significant because the back in acupuncture is considered the most yang — the most external, superficial — part of the body. It is our initial connection with the outside world.
The Bladder channel, since it takes up such significant territory on the back, is our first line of defense against invaders from the external environment — cold, wind, germs, pollen, etc. For this reason, points along the Bladder channel are frequently selected to get rid of cold and flu symptoms, and to boost immunity.
Downward-facing dog elongates the entire Bladder channel, enabling flow and strengthening the body’s primary defense mechanism.
The Bladder channel also contains what are known in acupuncture as the “Back Shu” points. Every organ has a Back Shu point along the Bladder channel (shu in Chinese means “to transport,” as in transport qi, perhaps in the form of or blood, or fluids, etc.) and these points are used by acupuncturists diagnostically and as treatment points for chronic diseases like “anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, menstrual irregularities, asthma, incontinence, migraines, insomnia, etc.”
Sure gives Down Dog Peeing on a Hydrant pose a whole new meaning. The more you know!
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Adho-Mukha-Shvanasan is indeed one of the jewels of the Yoga-Sutras.
But, YD, why look to the Chinese science of Acupuncture for an explanation and understanding of the benefits of Adho-Mukha-Shvanasana, a Yogasana, from the ancient Hindu science of Yoga ?
Rishi Patanjali was way ahead of them all, when he compiled the Yoga-Sutras. Surely, the Yoga-Sutras themselves would themselves provide a better explanation for why Adho-Mukha-Shvanasana is so beneficial, than could any Chinese Acupuncture authority.
Meanwhile, it is also true that many things, generally considered to be of Chinese origin, actually originated in India.
Thus, Buddhism was founded by the Hindu Prince Siddharth Gautama, born in the region that is in present day Nepal, near the border with India.
The art of deep meditation ( Dhyan in Sanskrit, Chen in Chinese, Zen in Japanese) and the martial-art of Kung-Fu was taught to the Buddhist monks of China, by a Buddhist monk, Bodhidharma, who was visiting China from South-India.
“According to an acupuncturist…”
Stopped right there. Why not get an astrologist while you’re at it?
I’m already sold on yoga poses curing what ails a body but it is nice to hear back-up from other traditions and practices. I will share this tidbit on Down Dog in my next class. Just another reason to keep doing.
Downdogs can be bad dogs too. There are no straight lines or right angles in nature. The human body is no different as we are circular in design. For that reason, we need to be careful about doing linear based positions that require us to put our body in a right angle similar to the shape of a chair. A downdog for many is just an inverted right angle position similar to chair sitting. WE are designed to move and yoga poses should reinforce how we use our body in real life. You still get to stimulate the bladder channel but without risk to the lumbar spine and shoulder joint. Many people reverse the sacral/lumbar curve, over stretch the shoulder joint and hyperextend their knees doing the right angle of the down dog pose. I have invented other ways called core dog, psoas dog and traction dog. These versions of downdog traction the spine while training your core abs to work in synergy with your back extensors to align your spine. At the same time, one can strengthen the wrist and shoulder joint and learn to move from core center. Many people do downward dog and just hang from their ligaments when they try to force the human body into a right angle. Once you are supporting your body’s natural design, chi flow in all the meridians will be optimized. go to http://www.yogalign.com to learn more
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