“Ahdo Mukha Shvanasana”. I can’t even say it. Which is probably a good indicator that I can’t even do it. At least not properly.
But my dog can.
Without even practicing.
Or even thinking about it.
Downward dog. Downward facing dog. Observing a 115 pound Great Dane do this truly makes one respect the art form. Large (but not too large) and graceful, this girl puts her big bucket head flat to the ground and gets the full stretch from her harlequin hued hamstrings. This is usually followed by a massive yawn and a groan that makes me laugh out loud. We’re talking about her groans, not mine. Mine aren’t that funny.
I’m training to run my first full marathon-26.2 miles of hellfire and brimstone to my feet, legs, and body. I do long runs on the weekends because I don’t have half a day during the week to voluntarily torture myself, not to mention another day and a half to recover from it. My masseuse suggested yoga to help stretch the muscles and keep my total body limber. Enter Downward Dog. Imagine lying flat on the ground in prone position. That was my first attempt at Downward Dog. Enter MY groans. Not funny at all.
How do dogs know this? How does living a simple, joyful life come so easy to them? Are they mystical creatures sent from another dimension to teach us how to live as better humans? Is that a rhetorical question? Here are 10 truths my dog has taught me about how to live.
1. Sleeping is everything. Take every opportunity you can to sleep. It works best when you can find a nice, shady spot in which to dig a hole and form your whole body into a ball that’s hole-sized. Utilize Downward Dog stretching upon awakening.
2. Enjoy food. Once you’ve found something you like, stick with it. Don’t eat the diet stuff. Just sniff it and walk away.
3. Treats are the best! Celebrate as often as possible for as many reasons as possible. Go pee outside. Come when you’re called. Sit occasionally. Bring the ball back. Sometimes lying down gets two!
4. Let people know what you’re feeling. Don’t wait to be asked if you need to go potty. Just go put your wet nose into someone’s hand. It doesn’t matter if it’s 2:00 a.m.
5. Do what you want. If dragging trash from the bathroom can is your thing, do it repeatedly and with passion. Don’t let the naysayers bring you down.
6. Be enthusiastic. Going for a walk? Get into it.
7. Keep your emotions in check until the timing is appropriate. No need to display shock at the turn of events in your life until the pizza delivery guy rings the doorbell.
8. Stay in shape. Run like the wind after the ball when it’s thrown so you can let your person know exactly where it is while you wait for her to come pick it up, or, if you’re feeling festive, FETCH it! (See # 3.)
9. Size doesn’t matter. A friend’s Chihuahua will eat your head while my Great Dane hides from butterflies.
10. Be happy. Recognize how lucky you are to have people in your life who love you unconditionally.
It’s never easy balancing health living with responsibility. So often, we are pulled in so many different directions each day with work, family, socializing, and technology. Seriously, who can find the time to train for a marathon? Finding basic joyfulness in living can be a challenge at best, and can result in health issues at worst. Whether it’s exercising, spirituality, relationships, or mindfulness, dogs can teach us so much about living our best lives. Volunteer with a local pet rescue or Humane Society to walk dogs for an hour weekly, and learn Downward Dog for life.
Dog live about 12 years, and that’s why they discovered this brilliant philosophy. Because time is limited, there is no time to be unhappy. ~Mehmet Murat