Thursday, May 23, 2013

Just Walking the Dog

Thursday's at my job is free yoga.  It is open to the community.  No matter what your practice is, newbie, intermediate, or longtime practitioner, yoga is here for you.   It started when the downturn began with the Michigan economy, as a way to give an hour of solace to those who had suffered job loss due to the auto industry cutbacks, and it has been here to stay ever since.  While our economy is bouncing back, yoga still remains an anchor in the eye of the storm of daily life.   I am a testament to this:  When I practice clarity comes.  Pattabhi Jois used to say, "Practice and all is coming!"  

Ain't nothing to it but to do it!  So let's workshop Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)!

If you you've ever gone to a yoga class, which I'm assuming you have if you're reading this blog, this is a posture that you may find yourself in over and over again.  Sometimes classes are large and it's difficult for a teacher to come around to each student to give corrections and make adjustments in every posture.  So lets talk about what things you may want to focus on doing and feeling in this posture. 

To get yourself into this posture you can start on your hands and knees in table posture, the knees should be directly under the hips and the wrists should be aligned directly under the shoulder.  With  hands that are planted firmly  into the mat, spread the fingers apart .   Make sure that the thumbs are not fully extended, bring them in halfway this will protect your, hands.  Push yourself up and back.

If you look at the picture below you will see that  directional arrows denote that the spine is being pulled in opposite directions.  This means, you want to lengthen the spine.  How do you do this?  Relax the neck and drop the head and press your hind parts up and back.  Keep a slight micro bend in the knees and try not to concern yourself with whether your feet are flat on the floor.  They may or may not touch, just make sure that you are not on your toes, but firmly and evenly on the balls of your feet if your heels don't reach the ground (most people's don't).  You'll want to have balanced weight between all points of contact on the ground, even pressure between the feet and hands so that one part is not taking the majority of the weight, even distribution is the key here.  

Your arms should be rotating outward from the shoulder joint, away from the spine. Relax your shoulder here, make sure they aren't up near your ears.  The movement causes an opening in the upper chest and the shoulder blades slide down the back slightly.  The hips should also be opening out and away from the spine.  By focusing on the above movements you create an opening of the chest and hips and a lengthening of the spine (when the head is released toward the floor and the neck is relaxed).  Engage your abdominal muscles while in this posture and continue to breathe.  Allow yourself to take three to five full breaths (inhalations and exhalations) while in downward dog before moving on to another posture.   

This is downward dog!

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