Adho Mukha Svanasana:
Easily one of the most popular yoga poses, Downward Facing Dog requires little introduction. The shape of the posture, hands and knees on the floor, head hanging downwards, tailbone in the air, easily resembles the shape of a dog awakening from a nap and moving into a long, deep stretch—hence the name, Downward Facing Dog. In Nepal, Tibet, dogs have a deeper symbolism, being respected for their role as protectors and guardians of the people.
Chakra: Muladhara Chakra
Location: Coccygeal plexus around the base of the spine, at what is known as the coccyx, or the tailbone. The first chakra is the foundation for the rest of the chakras and represents our innate human instinct for survival.
Supports: A healthy first chakra supports one’s belief in their right to be here, to be in this world as an individual. A person with a well-balanced first chakra feels safe and comfortable in their body. They have no problem setting boundaries and generally feel that the world, and their home, is a safe place to be.
Blocked: People with deficiencies in this area struggle to establish financial security, experience general physical ailment, and find it difficult to trust other people. Relationships are often shaky at best. People with excessive first chakra energy are resistant to change.
Physical Connection: From hands and knees position, spread the fingers wide and turn the toes under. Lift the knees up off the mat and press back into Downward-Facing Dog. Root down through the palms of the hands and the length of each finger. Press downwards into the mat and press the thighs back to create strength and stability in the pose, reminding us of our own strength, purpose, and inherent right to be here. Lift the sitting bones upwards towards the ceiling and soften the heels towards the earth.
Benefits of the Pose: As a mild inversion, Dog Pose calms the nervous system, helping to balance the fight-or-flight tendencies that are hypervigilant in people with a blocked first chakra. While strengthening the muscles of the arms, shoulders, and legs, Dog Pose also helps to correct poor posture by lengthening the spine. Increased mobility of the digestive system is another benefit of this familiar pose.
Modifications: If you have tight hamstrings, bend the knees to establish length in the spine. A long spine is more important than straight legs. People who experience excessive wrist pain in this pose can practice the posture on their forearms. If the shoulders are tight, place the hands slightly wider than shoulder-width distance apart. To intensive the pose, stay in Downward Dog for a longer time (one minute or longer).
**The translation of Muladhara is “root support” in English, which means rootedness or foundation. With a shaky foundation, attention remains focused on survival instincts, inhibiting the healthy development of the higher systems of creativity and spirituality.
***Malfunction in this region physically manifests through disorders of the bowel, anus, and large intestine. Eating disorders are prevalent in people with an excessive (overeating) or deficient (undereating) first chakra.