The effects of Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog, 5* on the 60* scale of difficulty) according to Iyengar:
“When one is exhausted, a longer stay in this pose removes fatigue and brings back the lost energy. The pose is especially good for runners who get tired after a hard race. Sprinters will develop speed and lightness in the legs. The pose relieves pain and stiffness in the heels and helps to soften calcaneal spurs. It strengthens the ankles and makes the legs shapely. The practice of this asana helps to eradicate stiffness in the region of the shoulder-blades, and arthritis of the shoulder-blades, and arthritis of the shoulder joints is relieved. The abdominal muscles are drawn towards the spine and strengthened. As the diaphragm is lifted to the chest cavity the rate of the heart beat is slowed down. This is an exhilirating pose.
“Those who are afraid to do Sirsasana [Headstand] can conveniently practice this position. As the trunk is lowered in this asana it is fully stretched and healthy blood is brought to this region without any strain on the heart. It rejuvenates the brain cells and invigorates the brain by relieving fatigue.
“Persons suffering from high blood pressure can do this pose.”
Of the 33 poses I’ve studied and re-discovered during the past month of this project, no other has warranted such lengthy discussion of the asana’s benefits. When you find yourself moving into Downward Dog for the twentieth time in a class, wondering why you keep coming back to this pose, reflect on just one of these numerous effects. Simple, basic asanas like Adho Mukha Svanasana have the capacity to provide you such vast benefits. Each time you return to Downward Dog, you’re offered another chance to connect to the wide-open possibility of the practice. Relish that opportunity.