Maybe you've had this experience -- you're listening to the radio when a catchy song comes on. The song sounds familiar and you think you know it but it has some slight variations. Welcome to the remix -- the same song, only different.
Yoga Asana Variations
Yoga asana has the remix as well, only it's called variation. I have a book of yoga asana that I purchased from India that has a mind-blowing number of asana variations (many I didn't even realized existed before reading the book). While I certainly do love my traditional ole asana, sometimes I like to spice things up to get my body out of muscle memory mode and into conscious mode.
Downward Dog Remix
These days, Downward Facing Dog (or Adho Mukha Svanasana for all of you Sanskrit fans) is one of my favorite postures. I love the inversion, the stretch, the feeling of my body in the pose. It's simple, strengthening, invigorating, and soothing all at the same time and it tends to be the posture that I find myself gravitating towards when I'm in the mood for spontaneous asana (which I sometimes do before bed, when I wake up, in the middle of the day if I've been sitting for a while or am feeling a bit tired, or anytime I'm in the mood for a little movement).
Since my body tends to move through this pose on automatic pilot, I like to add some variations:
- Last Spring I took a Kundalini class with Gurmukh and she had us pedal our feet (using the Sat Nam chant) in Down Dog for 11 minutes. It was a challenge and even though I balked at the time (my brain was thinking, "HOW long are we doing to do this?!?!"), I find myself coming back to this practice time and time again. Granted, I don't often go for the full 11 minutes. My favorite is 3 minutes.
- When I'm feeling the mood to open my hips, I love to raise a leg in Down Dog, bend the knee and let the leg fall out to the side.
- If I'm desiring movement, I alternate raising legs in Down Dog. I coordinate the movement to my breath and raise the leg as high as I can on an inhale and lower on the exhale. I highly suggest keeping the knees soft and slightly bent if you have tight hamstrings.
- If I'm in a core strengthening kind of mood, I'll raise a leg on an inhale and then bring it to my chest (bent knee to chest) on an exhale. I'll alternate legs for a few minutes before coming into a static Down Dog.
Downward Dog Variation Video
Here's another Downward Facing Dog variation to try if you're in the mood to mix it up -- One Legged One Armed Downward Facing Dog.
The Anatomy of Downward Dog
And if you're looking for some alignment/physical instruction for Downward Facing Dog, check out Bandha Yoga for some excellent tips.
What's Your Favorite?
So now I'm curious -- what's your favorite yoga pose variation?
And the Winner Is...
I don't see all that many movies, but I've seen Tin Cup and 21 and both movies offer up a quote that I've been using a lot lately (not sure why, exactly) -- winner, winner, chicken dinner. Since it actually makes sense to use it here as I'm announcing the winner of the MyZenArt yoga mat bag, I'm going with it. Congratulations to Kris -- she was picked at random to win the gorgeous and extra spacious yoga mat bag. Thank you to everyone that entered -- I so enjoyed reading all of your comments.