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This Is What Happens When You Do Downward Dog Every Day

This Is What Happens When You Do Downward Dog Every Day

Adho Mukha Svanasana, more commonly known as Downward Dog, is one of the most widely practiced yoga poses on the planet. You could probably even call it the poster child of yoga poses.

In almost every style of yoga, you’ll find yogis doing the old Downward Dog. It’s routinely practiced in Iyengar, Bikram, Vinyasa, and Ashtanga yoga styles.

At first glance, Downward Dog doesn’t look like an overly difficult pose. However, if you’ve been practicing for awhile, then you know it requires strength, flexibility, and stamina to perform correctly.

Downward Dog is one of the few yoga poses that strengthens and stretches almost every muscle in the body. At the same time, it provides the benefits of other poses, like inversions and backbends.

So what will happen if you practice Downward Dog every day?

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You’ll Work All the Muscles of Your Upper Body

We tend to hunch over at our desks, computers, and mobile phones throughout the day, which causes tension and tightness in our chest and upper backs. There’s even a word for it now – computer hunch.

Downward Dog is a great pose to stretch those muscles and relieve that tension. By stabilizing your upper body in Downward Dog, you engage and strengthen the muscles of the arms, chest, back, and shoulder area.

You’ll Stretch & Strengthen Your Legs

Walking, standing, and sitting all day causes the glutes, hips, hamstrings, and calves to get tight.

Downward Dog will help stretch and release these large muscle groups. It stretches and opens up the backs of your legs from the glutes, along the hamstrings, and down to the calves.

Simultaneously, you’ll flex and strengthen the front of your legs, including your hips, quadriceps, and ankles.

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You’ll Strengthen Your Core

Downward Dog is essentially an inverted Boat Pose. If you’re familiar with Boat Pose, then you know it’s one of the very best poses for strengthening and toning your entire abdominal area.

The act of engaging your abdominal muscles and pulling your navel into your spine also works the digestive organs and helps improve your body’s ability to properly digest food.

You’ll Tone Your Hands & Feet

Since Downward Dog is a weight-bearing pose, it will work your hands and feet, as well as prepare you for standing poses and arm balances.

Grounding down through the hands, and spreading your fingers wide, work your fingers, hands, and wrists. As you press your heels down, the pose also strengthens and stretches the Achilles tendons, arches, feet, and toes.

You’ll Strengthen Your Bones & Joints

Downward Dog helps strengthen your bones and improves your bone density, which is key for preventing osteoporosis.

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It’s especially great for strengthening your wrist and ankle joints. If you work at a computer all day, you know how tight and overworked your wrists can get.

While in the pose, the angle of the wrists and ankles is only about 45 degrees, which helps protect from overstretching.

You’ll Boost Circulation

Downward Dog is actually an inversion, since your head is lower than your heart. Just like with a headstand, it improves the flow of blood throughout the body and gets blood flowing to the brain.

The improved blood circulation helps flush toxins, boosts immunity, and regulates blood pressure.

You’ll Release Tension & Melt Stress

The act of stretching and elongating the cervical spine and neck helps to relieve tension along your spine. Allowing your head to relax will help ease your tension and stress.

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The flow of blood to the brain calms the nervous system, improves memory and concentration, as well as relieving stress. It also provides relief from headaches, insomnia, fatigue, and mild depression.

You’ll Bring Awareness to Your Breathing

Downward Dog is typically used for pauses while doing sun salutations or vinyasa flows. During the pause, you can really focus in on your breath.

At the end of the day, yoga is all about your breath. If you’re not fully breathing throughout your poses, then you’re not practicing yoga. Downward Dog will help you come back to your breath.

Final Thoughts

Downward Dog is one of the most versatile yoga poses you can do. It’s not only a relaxing pose, but also a naturally energizing pose. According to legendary yoga guru B.K.S. Iyengar:

“A mere minute in this pose will bring back lost energy for runners after a hard race.”

Iyengar also famously called Headstand the “king of yoga poses.” However, if I could do only one yoga pose, it would be Downward Dog. It provides the benefits of an inversion like Headstand while simultaneously stretching and strengthening almost every muscle in the body.

Whether you have a favorite yoga class that you go to regularly, or you prefer home practice, you’ll find great benefits from practicing Downward Dog each and every day.

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This Is What Happens When You Do Downward Dog Every Day

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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