The inverted V pose know in Sanskrit as Parvatasana, or maybe more commonly known as the downward facing dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana is one of the twelve postures performed through Suryia Namaskar, the sun salutations. Although I love to flow through the sun salu’s with one breath one movement, I also really love to hold this posture for a series of deep breaths, and there are reasons as to why you should.
Firstly it is our legs that carry us around each day, walking, running, standing and generally moving around can bring tension to the back of the legs causing tightness to the hamstrings and calf muscles. The inverted V is wonderful for bringing relief to the backs of the legs and causing the tension to release itself with the help of gravity, lengthening those tight hamstrings.
It keeps the spine long and allows the vertebrae to find space, which in other forward bends such as Paschimottanasana (seated forward fold) is not as easy. With this posture it keeps the spine long without causing any other tension to other parts of the body. Here we use gravity to reverse the usual downward pressure to the spine, and the pressure you create through the palms and feet on the mat is one of the best tools for lengthening the spine. Here the spine receives the benefits of an inverted posture such as the headstand but is great for anyone not wanting to practice those postures yet, or has neck or shoulder injuries or simply not enough strength to hang upside down for longer periods of time.
Being able to hold here gives you the time to really slow down and focus on the breath and actually feel the breath working through the body and re-energising each and every cell. Our breath in its gross form is our energy so to be able to feel it moving through the body is a beautiful thing.
It is a great strengthening posture not only for the arms but also for the chest. Many people now spend hours hunched at desks and over computers this posture is a great combat to those hunched shoulders, chest and upper back muscles and brings a sense of release from pain and pressure from those areas of the body.
There will be an increase of upper body strength through the practice of this posture which is probably something we could all do with, keeping the elbows slightly soft so as not to hyperextend through the arms and engaging all the muscles in the arms by taking the biceps away from the ears and really pushing the palms down into the mat will bring a great deal of prana or energy to the whole arm and will help to build on stamina.
And finally by bringing the chin into the chest creates a pressure to the throat area which is going to provide stimulation for the thyroid gland which in turn regulates the whole metabolic system, bring balance and harmony to our whole systems. We could also say that this stimulation is also reaching Vishuddhi chakra located at the throat in our astral bodies, hence governing our speech and communications, so that we can make ourselves more easily understood and able to express ourselves through sound and speech more easily and beneficially.
So next time you practice this wonderful posture try to bear all these things in mind and explore through your body, instead of hanging out and wondering how long is the teacher going to make me hold this pose, give your brain a wonderful bath of oxygen, breathe deeply and feel the pose both internally and externally and let go of all the stresses and strains of the day.
Looking forward to meeting you on the mat for a bit of Inverted V time
Om Lokha Somasta Sukhino Bhavantu
May you all find peace, balance and harmony
Mangala / Nicky