There are so many great poses in yoga that are great for slowing the aging process. The great thing about yoga is that it can be done at any age, but if I had to pick one pose that is the all-time best for anti-aging I would pick down dog.
Love it or hate it, down dog is a one for all pose that absolutely provides a pro-active approach to anti-aging. First it is a pose that involves the movement and use of the entire body. It stretches the muscles giving us flexibility. It uses the weight of our body to create a weight bearing pose that strengthens the bones. Balance is then required to hold and maintain it.
It is an inversion which means it takes pressure off the heart and fights gravity by allowing the flow of fresh blood and oxygen to move toward the face instead of away and towards the ground which is what happens when we are standing. If done correctly it strengthens the shoulders and wrist while lifting and opening the hips and this improves our balance. Down dog stretches the back muscles and relieves tension in the neck and shoulders.
But most importantly down dog requires a coordination of both discipline and surrender. Two opposing forces that work together to create balance. It takes discipline to move into down dog. The entire body must be engaged. It takes focus and positioning and these both require discipline. But then to maintain down dog it requires surrender. We must breathe and relax into the pose so we can hold it. Too much tension and we give way to collapse.
So down dog teaches us that with discipline we must surrender if we want to take a pro-active approach to our health. We must approach our health with a sense of discipline, but to maintain it we must surrender and learn to keep our focus without a struggle. Struggle create tension and tension is a factor in accelerated aging
Pro-active anti-aging requires discipline. We need to stay active, be positive and not give in to process and yet at the same time we need to surrender and allow it to happen. We can’t fight it, but we can learn to surrender and like the river enjoy each passing moment. The scenery sometimes is gentler and more spectacular the nearer we get to the delta.
Down dog – discipline and surrender!