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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 July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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