Energy Geometry of Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
The variation of Downward-Facing Dog we include in our asana sequence is what defines the energetic and mental effect we will experience by the end of the practice.
In every asana, every little detail matters: the additional inch between our feet or hands, how high we raise our head, where we direct our gaze, which muscle groups we activate and which we relax through mental effort, how we then work with breathing and attention, and so much more. Each of these factors changes the energetic and mental effect of a pose.
Here are some of the ways to work with energy flow in Downward-Facing Dog:
• The closer together we bring the feet, the weaker the energy flow from Earth. When your legs are hip-width or further apart, the flow from Earth intensifies but still trickles down from the Muladhara chakra (pelvis) to the center of the brow, activating the Ajna chakra.
• By raising the head in Downward Dog, we block the throat center and stop the energy flow at the Anahata chakra level (heart center), blocking it from flowing into the neck and head.
• Even with the head down, however, the energy flow can be raised to the pelvis, activating the Muladhara center and grounding (or, if need be, activating) Manipura chakra (the navel center). This can be done by working with our mind, body, visualization, and breath in a particular manner while in the pose.
• Making contact with the palm makes a stronger tie with Earth—but by doing so, we return the energy down into the Earth. Making contact only with the fingertips draws the energy flow from Earth upward, allowing us to pull energy from Earth much more effectively.
• By slightly turning the palms and feet inward, we can further open up the perineum and the Muladhara chakra, intensifying the connection with Earth and filling all the lower centers with energy. Turn the palms and feet out and you get the opposite effect.
The best way to find out how our bodies work—and how any particular asana works—is through individual practice.
On a given day, take just one asana and do it for the entirety of the practice: study it, examine it, feel it. Give it your time and attention— and, like an endless tome, it will tell you much about itself and about you.