Two Dog Tales
From the July 2011 Two Dog Newsletter
Downward Dog by Annie Stocker
Downward Dog is often the first asana I do in my practice. Sometimes it's the only asana. This pose can inspire me to move into the flowing vinyasa of a sun salutation or a strong backbend blossoming practice. If done alone, it can cultivate an enduring and steady stillness in my whole being. I did many sustained Downward Dogs when my children were babies: they would crawl around and over my legs and arms as if I were jungle gym!
Downward Dog can be a challenging pose when students first begin yoga, as many of us have tight hamstrings and restricted motion in our shoulders. Through practice, we begin to intelligently integrate arms and legs with the core of body. Through balanced muscular action, we learn to extend actively from our core into the earth with our four limbs. Downward Dog then becomes dynamic and stable, a peaceful place to quiet our 'monkey' minds and rest our 'weary' hearts: an active inward meditation.
In our Two Dog Yoga logo, two dogs are "bow(wow)ing" in playful, reverence and love....toward each other in 'Downward Dog'. To me this symbolizes the way yoga calls us each to reflect on our relationships to self, each other, and life.
Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana by Wendy Groesbeck
Most yoga practitioners are familiar with the Sanskrit word PARIVRRTA, which is typically translated as “revolved” or “twisted”. But the actual experience of parivrtta offers us much more than just looking behind us or just giving our innards a good squeeze. When we “revolve” within the container of a yoga pose we find ourselves moving toward a direction we typically don’t go, to a place within ourselves often ignored or forgotten. We embrace ourselves more fully, retreating inward…ultimately re-emerging into a wider & more panoramic sense of ourselves. We spread our awareness “all around”.
Although I consider this pose to be one of my current favorites, it took a long time for me to truly appreciate what it had to offer. For years this posture outright challenged me in every way imaginable – both my mind & body were completely disoriented by the unchartered territory I found myself in. But somehow I remained intrigued & curious. Eventually I felt the muscles of my spine & trunk, shoulders & hips, legs & groins (pretty much all of me…) opening & aligning in unison. Then in one sweet breath, I discovered the chambers of my heart expanding. Along with an abiding presence, I have learned to trust in my ability to let go – joyously occupying my body & space around me in a fresh & wonderful way!
Forearm Dog Pose by Shannon McCall
I probably fell in love with this pose in the early days of training with Ana Forrest where we practiced this pose A LOT, and held it for long periods. I love this pose for the wonderful shoulder opening and strengthening of the upper back and shoulders. In addition, it is a great hamstring stretch, and core strengthener when one leg is slowly raised while the pelvis is held steady.
Being a heady person, I appreciate having my head down and my pelvis and legs up high, feels like a nice release for my brain, head and neck.
This is a pose that often brings grunts and groans from students not used to the extra challenge of elbows down. During child’s pose afterwards, I like to have them breathe into the areas they were just feeling so much, and notice how quickly the body recovers. This is a great pose to do instead of pincha mayurasana and leads well into bridge pose and the full backbend.
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