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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Doga Pose 4: Upward Facing Dog

by Carrie Boyko, CEB
Jess and Nikki B.
Skillfully Demonstrate the Cobra Pose
While Child's Pose still remains my favorite, I think that Cobra Pose is extremely good for strengthening the back of the neck, upper and lower back, areas that I could use some work on these days. I suppose each of us will find our own favorites as the poses continue to roll out, one each week. 

Can You Catch My Mistake?
Cobra Pose is the beginning position for Upward Facing Dog and can be held instead of moving up to Upward Facing Dog. I hope you'll start with Cobra and take your time. See how your body responds the day after a first and second try. Be patient with yourself and enjoy this journey to gaining strength and flexibility. It will pay off in your relationships as well, even the one with Fido. Here's an image you may find inspirational, with Tanner and Oliver watching as I practice:

Now that I've pulled this photo into this post I can see that I've incorrectly performed the pose. I learn so much from photos that are snapped of me. Do you see what I did wrong? Although I could feel the muscles in my back working, I'm feeling them even more now that I have started to perform Cobra pose in the proper way. I hope this helps you as you watch and practice this video:

How did this feel? It was definitely worth 7 minutes to learn this great stretch that will strengthen your upper body. If Cobra felt empowering but Upward Facing Dog was a little much, give your body time to catch up. There's really no hurry. You'll strengthen and loosen up a little more with each practice. Here's a quote from Yoga Journal about the positive effects of yoga on your joints:

For each time you practice yoga, you take your joints through their full range of motion. This can help prevent degenerative arthritis or mitigate disability by "squeezing and soaking" areas of cartilage that normally aren't used. Joint cartilage is like a sponge; it receives fresh nutrients only when its fluid is squeezed out and a new supply can be soaked up. Without proper sustenance, neglected areas of cartilage can eventually wear out, exposing the underlying bone like worn-out brake pads.
Did that make you squirm? It did me. I found it gave me a little extra push to make sure I get today's workout in. Mind you, my workouts don't look like some you'll find online. I'm taking it at my own pace, given my age and physical condition. You should do the same, allowing for your doctor's recommendations.
Upward Facing Dog
Our first three poses, published earlier, are at the following links, as well as at our dedicated Doga page. We hope you enjoy following along and that you'll offer your comments and ideas for incorporating your dogs easily and safely into your practice. The comment link is always open at the bottom of my posts.

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If you're new to Doga or Yoga, please be sure to do these three things: (1) Get your doctor's permission to start a yoga workout, (2) Check with your vet to make sure your dog is able to participate in simple Doga exercises safely, and (3) visit our introductory post where I've outlined a few tips that will help your experience go more smoothly and enjoyable. Keep in mind that you can always stop if a pose is uncomfortable, returning to a relaxing pose.


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