Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
This is my favourite asana as I feel deeply connected with the posture and its affirmation. Apparently a difficult posture, I get into this posture with much ease and feel relaxed once I am completely attuned to the affirmation, “Calmness radiates from every fibre of my being.” As I lengthen the spine, the upliftment of consciousness to the state of deep calmness is indescribably enjoyable, which is why I can remain in the pose for a few minutes, and may be longer, as I experience no discomfort or uneasiness whatsoever. Breathing is smooth and natural while holding the asana.
Being a partial inversion, the position of heart is above the head and, therefore, a gush of energy is felt in the brain as I hold this pose for a few minutes. This brings mental clarity and deep calmness within me as I regularly practice this asana.
Fostering the inner attitude of calmness, I intensely feel that this asana is excellent in uplifting one to a state of even-mindedness where no external condition can influence the inner state of calmness. Often compared with peace, calmness is an internal condition, which can even exist even when conditions are far from peaceful, also sometimes the opposite of peaceful. For example, a soldier on a battlefield may be outwardly experiencing chaos being in the midst of gun firing in all directions, men dying around him with uncertainty of his own life. But a brave man may be utterly calm even in this state, focusing on his duty, for he is fighting the enemy to save his countrymen, which is an act of dharma or righteousness for him at that moment.
Though both peace and calmness are the attributes or manifestations of the Divine, peace is simply the absence of any outer conflict, which actually cannot be guaranteed, but the quality of calmness is internal restfulness even in the midst of conflict. Therefore, we can choose calmness. This is exactly what the Adho Mukha Shvanasana builds in us if we practice it regularly. Every cell of our body can, then, choose to remain in an absolute calm state irrespective of what is happening in our daily life that is subjected to duality.
Paramhansa Yogananda has said that we must be calmly active and be actively calm. To reach such a state of consciousness, the practice of this asana is immensely beneficial. Swami Kriyananda has emphasized that calmness comes by living in the present moment and placing our lives in God’s hands and knowing that He is fully in command. This means that complete surrender to the Divine will is the sole way of bringing in us the state of even-mindedness or true calmness. The affirmation that comes to my mind for Adho Mukha Shvanasana is:
“Calmly enduring, I surrender to receive Thy grace”
…Dr P. Cheena Chawla