The lower half of Downward Facing Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana is the powerhouse of the posture. Proper alignment of the pelvis and legs will draw the body back so that the arms do not have to bear all of the weight alone. It is key here to bend the knees if the hamstrings or lower back are tight in order to keep the lower belly long and lower back tranctioned. Enjoy this week's practice that is all about grounding the thighs and aligning the pelvis for a strong and stable Dog Pose.
Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose)
Lie on the back with the knees bent.
Variation I: Draw your right knee into your chest and lengthen the left leg onto the floor. Wrap a strap around the ball of your foot and extend the leg into the air. Reach the hands up the strap until the elbows are straight but the shoulders are still grounded.
Therapeutics: Stretches the hamstrings, also releases tension in the lower back.
Cow: Begin on the hands and knees, toes pointed. Inhale lift the sternum forward and drop the pubic bone back between the legs to arch the spine.
Cat: Exhale round the back and drop the head and tail bone towards the floor.
Repeat with your breath 10 times.
Therapeutics: Massages the internal organs and warms-up the muscles along the spine.
Ardha Uttanasana (Half Forward Bend)
Begins standing in Tadasana. Bend forward from hips and place fingertips on either floor, blocks or tops of knees with arms straight. Open heart forward and draw thighs and sit bones back.
Hold for 10 breaths, release into Uttanasana.
Therapeutics: Stretches front torso, backs of legs
Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Forward Bend)
Stand with feet wide apart. Bend forward from hips placing hands between feet. Release spine forward with crown of head facing floor.
Hold up to 1 minute, then return to standing by drawing hands onto hips and lifting entire torso up as a single unit.
Therapeutics: Intense hamstring stretch, opens back of body
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
Dandasana (Staff Pose)
Sit with the legs straight out in front of the torso. Sit on the edge of a folded blanket if needed and/or press the hands into the floor.
Ground the thighs toward the floor, activate the feet. Lift up through the torso and relax the shoulders.
Hold 10-20 breaths then release.
Therapeutics: Strengthens legs, increases core awareness.
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.