Aligning the arms and shoulders in Downward Facing Dog will help to take some of the strain out of the joints. It is important that the hands are flat with middle fingers forward. The inner elbows should turn to face the direction of the thumbs so that the arms are neither bent nor hyperextended. The shoulder blades should be drawn down the back and wrap around the side chest to bear the weight of the torso most effectively. This weeks practice will focus on opening the shoulders and learning the alignment necessary to make Dog Pose feel effortless.
Dharana Virasana (Hero's Concentration Pose)
Sit with legs in Virasana. Cross right arm over left arm intertwining forearms in front of face.
Repeat to both sides for up to 1 minute.
Therapeutics: Opens the upper back and stretches Rhomboids.
Begin on all fours. Inhale right arm overhead and left leg behind you. Exhale draw right arm to your side and left leg into chest as you round the back. You may also hold the extended posture while engaging the belly.
Repeat 5-10 times each side.
Therapeutics: Builds postural strength diagonally across the back body.
Begin on all fours. Inhale lift right arm out to side. Exhale press right arm under left armpit lowering right shoulder to floor. Continue to press left hand into floor for balance. Can also raise left knee up pressing left ball of foot into floor. Be careful not to put too much pressure on your head.
Therapeutics: Opens upper back, shoulders and rib cage.
Begin on the hands and knees, feet flexed. Reach the hands forward and press the hips back so that they are directly over the heels. Extend through the sides of the body being careful not to arch to back.
Therapeutics: Provides traction for the spine and warms up the shoulders.
Gomukhasana (Cow's Face Pose)
Sit with the left knee bent and bring the left foot to the outside of the right hip. Bring the right knee on top of the left and the right foot goes outside of the left hip. Raise the arms out to the sides and turn the palms backwards. Raise the left arm overhead and bring the right arm behind the back, bending both elbows. Either grasp a strap or clasp the hands together behind the shoulders.
Hold 10-20 breaths then release and change sides.
Therapeutics: Stretches both the shoulders and the hips.
Dolphin (or Elbow Dog)
Begin on all fours with hands clasped, elbows placed shoulders width apart. Turn toes under and lift knees off floor. Step feet slightly in, heels remain lifted. Press forearms into floor and draw shoulders down the back. Press thighs back and draw belly in
DO NOT PLACE HEAD ON FLOOR!
Hold up to 2 minutes, then release into Child's Pose.
Therapeutics: Stretches and strengthens upper back and shoulders
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
Begin on all fours with hands slightly forward of shoulders. Turn toes under and lift knees off floor. Keep shoulders wide and palms flat, press thighs and sit bones back, scooping belly in.
Hold 1-3 minutes, release into Child's Pose.
Therapeutics: Strengthens arms and shoulders, stretches back of torso and legs
I attend Cheryl's class regularly and feel that my practice has improved immensely over the past few years due to her expert coaching. Her teaching style is clear and compassionate and her previous experience in teaching adults is evident in her organized approach and easy to understand instructions. I also appreciate that Cheryl not only teaches us about how to correctly position ourselves, but also touches on many aspects of yoga philosophy, which in turn has deepened my personal practice and heightened my awareness of the connection between mind and body, breath and relaxation.