By P.J. Stuart
Dandayamana Dhanurasana. It’s “everyone’s favorite pose to photograph,” and why wouldn’t it be? Whether you’re showing off Standing Bow in front of the Eiffel Tower or out in the back yard, there’s no better way to demonstrate your physical grace than by snapping a shot of this one. It’s iconic.
But it’s also ironic. Because as effortless as this beautiful posture may appear, many of us know – as we see drops of our own sweat flying onto the mat – Standing Bow demands a huge amount of determination to stay balanced (at least for longer than the 5 seconds it takes for a picture). Bikram says – and BYPV teachers remind us time and again – it takes “English Bulldog determination.” Most admirers would never guess the secret to all your grace and beauty is a … bulldog!
I mean no disrespect to this fierce, wrinkly-faced creature. On the contrary, in an effort to empower myself and improve my practice, I began researching this ferocious animal. As one of Bikram’s designated animal guides (I’ll save the Bengal Tiger for a separate post), I thought it might help to have a more concrete, deeper understanding of this beast.
What makes the English Bulldog so determined?
FACT #1: Bred for Fighting
Ever wonder why there’s a bull in “bulldog?” This dog’s broad, sturdy jaw isn’t merely a coincidence. A cross between a mastiff and a terrier, the English Bulldog was bred for fighting … specifically, for a sport known as “bull baiting.” In the 1600s, English spectators placed wagers as several dogs were set onto a tethered bull. The dog that successfully grabbed the bull by its nose and pinned it down was proclaimed winner.
Without extreme determination, many of the dogs would die in violent competition.
TIP: Picture THAT next time you’re holding yourself up in Standing Bow! (And don’t worry, the sport was declared illegal in 1835 under the Cruelty to Animals Act – EnglishBulldogs have had a much cushier, gentler lifestyle ever since).
FACT #2: Stupid Determination
Turns out, there might be psychological reasons English Bulldogs are so gosh-darn determined, too. They rank 78 out of 80 in Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs, which ranks dog breeds according to their brainpower. English Bulldogs hold the lowest degree of working/obedience intelligence of all dogs, which makes them less likely to listen to human commands – and more likely to listen to their own animal instincts.
TIP: When an animal knows it wants or needs something, it will do whatever it takes to get it! Take a tip from our English canine pal, push all your obtrusive human thoughts aside – and channel some of that stupid determination.
FACT #3: Mascot Power
The English Bulldog is the official mascot of the United States Marine Corps. During World War I, many German reports called the attacking Marines “teufel-hunden” (meaning Devil Dogs) – vicious, wild and ferocious. Soon after, U.S. Marine recruiting posters showed the image of a snarling English Bulldog wearing a Marine Corps helmet.
In 1922, at the Marine base at Quanitco, Virginia, the Marines enlisted their first bulldog, Pvt. Jiggs. Today, many USMC bases have their own mascot on base. (Thirty-nine American universities also use a Bulldog as their mascot!)
TIP: When trying to conjure up your English Bulldog determination, remember – they symbolize the warrior culture of combat marines! Don’t accept anything less. You’re a marine now – yogi style!
BYPV says: Look what you can accomplish with a little of that "English Bulldog determination"!