The yoga courses have begun and this week was their 2nd week. In the course, downward facing dog i.e. adho mukha svanasana is usually the first pose that I teach, as I have infinite admiration for the pose.
As a general principle, adho mukha svanasana is (Yes, it is!) the backbone of vinyasa and ashtanga vinyasa yoga practice. Here is a few reasons why I love the pose some much:
The traditional “guru” halo and the general position of teaching someone something give the yoga instructor a degree of freedom around the bodies (and sometimes emotions) of the people who attend their class. There is an assumption inherent in every asana class that the instructor can give the practitioners physical assists. Indeed, it is only too easy to find videos of Patthabi Jois, the founder of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, standing, lying on people in seated forward folds (see pic below), tugging their arms and legs into binds, grabbing them by the bum, etc. In this regard, Iyengar, the founder of Iyengar yoga, was no different.
I’ve long thought about the role of the teacher or lecturer in psychology. That is no longer a part of my life so my thought have been diverted towards thinking about the role of the yoga teacher. As someone who started practicing yoga at home on her own and struggled to learn from books, I think I can attest for the need for an instructor when it comes to yoga. As much as it is a personal practice, yoga practitioner needs (at least) a second set of eyes to watch her journey closely. One practical reason for this is that it is very easy to do the asanas in a way that can result in short or long term injuries. The other reason is that like in any other learning process, one can lose her motivation and give up even due to the smallest of failures or simply due to laziness.