TGIF!  In this week’s fun pose friday we’ll break down puppy pose / anahatasana (anahata = heart chakra). This pose is also often referred to as heart-melting pose.  Who doesn’t want to have their heart melt!?

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Puppy pose is a relaxing backbend (and heart melter) that is a cross between downward facing dog and child’s pose.

To explore puppy pose:

  • With arms shoulder width distance apart, walk your hands forward and begin lowering your chest down toward the ground. Keep hips lifted over your knees; ie: don’t change your knee of hip placement/alignment.
  • If it feels good for your body, lower your forehead to the mat. You can deepen the stretch for your shoulders by coming up onto your chin and looking forward.  Make sure this version doesn’t cause any strain for the neck or shoulders.  If it does, ease up.
  • Activate your arms by pressing your palms down into the mat and lifting elbows and forearms up off the ground.  Once you’ve got your puppy pose down, you can also try different hand placements (see photos of Yoga Nag / Daisy below).
  • Draw your shoulder blades towards each other and extend hips up toward the sky. Allow your neck be loose and relaxed.
  • Hold the pose for five to ten breaths, then slowly lift your head up and begin walking your hands back to tabletop position.

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Check out some benefits puppy pose:

• Stretches the spine, shoulders, upper back, arms and abdominal muscles.

• As a slight inversion, with the heart just higher than the head, this pose can foster a sense of calmness in the body, relieving stress and anxiety.

• Releases tension in you upper arms, shoulders, and neck.

• Expands your chest and opens up hips.

• Good preparation for backbends.

There are several variations you can try to make puppy pose more comfortable. If it is difficult to get your torso down toward the mat, try placing your forehead on a block. If your knees or lower back are uncomfortable in puppy pose, try placing a rolled-up blanket or bolster between your thighs and calves. This modification can also be helpful if you want to hold the pose for a longer stretch.

For more on puppy pose, check out this info from Yoga Journal.

Have a great weekend yogis! See you on the mat!