Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dog days

A lovely friend of mine announced boldly the other night during a girly dinner, "I hate downward facing dog!"
Just to clarify, although she is French and therefore naturally a little bit mad, she didn't just make this statement out of the blue, we were in yoga discussion! Another one of my girlfriends always comes out of downward dog with tears running down her unnervingly healthy looking and perfectly made up face. Now, personally, I love down dog, the unmatched stretch through the whole back side of my body, the strength I feel through my arms, the way I can feel the breath and the energy coursing through every part of me, the calming feeling it inspires in me...blah blah blah! I am such a yoga bore sometimes aren't I? As my Mum would say," If only you had been as passionate and dedicated with your school work!"  Anyway, the girls got me thinking a bit more deeply about the down dog phenomenon. Obviously although supposedly a calming, resting posture, Adho Mukha Svanasana, (for all those tongue twisting sankrit lovers out there) apparently does not suit everyone.
Which is actually pretty cool.
Stick with me people!
For example, I feel really uncomfortable in back banding postures. Now from what I have read and been told, this is quite common in strong controlling types of people. No rude comments please! People who like to be calling the shots all the time, find it difficult to move in a direction that they can't necessarily see and that could put them out of control, off balance!
See, interesting right?! 
So then I got researching.
In ayurveda, every living thing is made up of five elements: air, ether, fire, water and earth. These elements then combine in pairs to form Doshas, or governing principles. So, in a nut shell each of us falls into one of the three Dosha categories and that determines what kind of person we are, physically, emotionally, in character, vitality etc.
Vatta, Pitta and Kapha.
 I won't drag this out and give you a lecture in ayurvedic philosophy but  it is pretty interesting that what type of person we are, more fire, than water, more earth than air, can determine perhaps which yoga poses suit us and which we just can't get to grips with. Now if you are more air you may find it hard to do an inversion. Or if you are more water you might prefer the flow of a vinyasa class to a more static Iyengar practice. Apparently you can balance your elements by pushing through the mental and emotional barriers in your practice and going for those more dreaded poses. As long as there is no physical discomfort, of course.
As with all yoga postures, we can react differently on different days, that is what is so unique and incredible about each of us. Downward facing dog can be merely a stretch one day and a heart opening emotional release another. It can be challenging one day and restorative the next. It can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Whatever it is today, live it! You can't change it. And once it is done, it is done and you move on, not dwelling on the why's and wherefores.
With such an array of benefits however, one thing is certain, you have to admire it!

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