We have come to one of my favorite lessons I offer each year, a mini-course on the alignment and nuances of downward facing dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana. I look forward to teaching this series because downward facing dog is one of those postures that many teachers assume their students know how to do, the pose is rarely taught in public yoga classes, students are just expected to know how to align the body in this pose which requires open hamstrings, flexible but strong shoulders and knowledge of our own postural habits.
This time I will split the course into three weeks of classes, spinal, shoulder, and pelvic and leg alignment. For our first session, we will work with core position and strength which will help us learn to feel when the spine is neutral, arched like in cow, or rounded like in cat. This is doubly helpful in down dog because it helps hyper-mobile people to prevent overarching the spine and hyper-flexion of the shoulders. For those with less flexible bodies, this proprioceptive sense of neutral encourages the lengthening of the lower abdomen and extension of the upper thoracic so that the spine creates one half of the inverted V that makes up downward facing dog.
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.