Finding rest in downward dog


Ardho Mukha Svanasana (Downward dog) has got to be the easiest yet most difficult asana to master in yoga. When I first started, my heels couldn’t even touch the floor, my lumbar spine was rounded, and my shoulders were shrugged against my ears. Bottom line: I was not relaxed in the pose.

When I first did the ashtanga primary series in 2014, my teachers always said “rest in downward dog”. How does one REST in THIS POSE?!? Then one fine day, my teacher asked me to hold this pose for 10 minutes. My shoulders ached 2 minutes into holding the pose. That was then I realised that I had to engage my legs so that I could last 10 minutes into this pose. Never have I relied on my legs so much. Through the pain and struggle, I came out a stronger and more insightful person.

This is it. Yoga has taught me what it feels like to be a student all over again. When I teach General Paper (I’m a school teacher, yes), sometimes I feel like need to provide all the answers because my students are struggling. But maybe sometimes all I need to do (after my initial instruction) is to watch them struggle, go through the pain and allow them to learn on their own. Letting go of the control I desire could be the most difficult thing, but I’m slowly going to learn how to do this. Slowly, slowly, I’ll be a better teacher.

– Nathalie Rachel Fernandez, 24 Oct 2016