A Pose breakdown...

Hey yoginis and yogis!

We wanted to give a few pointers for Adho Mukha Svanasana, otherwise known as Downward Facing Dog. This posture can be delicious or it can be your least favorite. We remember. ;)

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Let's look at 2 pictures of the pose that we most commonly see students

do in classes: 

  Our first pose. The shoulders are rounded and most of the upper body's weight is being dumped towards the hands. The heels are pushing up and forward creating even more of the body's weight to be placed on the arms and wrists. This will create a lot of tense muscles and wrist pain. Also, there is no aligning of the ears with the shoulders and hips, which would create a straight spine. Instead the spine is out of natural alignment.

Our first pose. The shoulders are rounded and most of the upper body's weight is being dumped towards the hands. The heels are pushing up and forward creating even more of the body's weight to be placed on the arms and wrists. This will create a lot of tense muscles and wrist pain. Also, there is no aligning of the ears with the shoulders and hips, which would create a straight spine. Instead the spine is out of natural alignment.

  Here we have a very short stance. There is no lengthening of the spine. Though the soles of the feet are flat on the floor, there is still a lot of weight being dumped into the arms and wrists. You get a sense that the body is still being pushed forward instead of up and back. The shoulders are rounded and the gaze is down towards the hands which will cause tense neck muscles and tight upper shoulders. There is no engagement of the abdominals, quads, or arms. 

Here we have a very short stance. There is no lengthening of the spine. Though the soles of the feet are flat on the floor, there is still a lot of weight being dumped into the arms and wrists. You get a sense that the body is still being pushed forward instead of up and back. The shoulders are rounded and the gaze is down towards the hands which will cause tense neck muscles and tight upper shoulders. There is no engagement of the abdominals, quads, or arms. 

Now that we have some ideas on things we can correct to better align the body, let's look at what it actually translates to:

 

  There's a lot going on here! Let's start at the hands: fingers are nice and wide. She is pushing into the pads at the base of the fingers and sides of the palms but being careful to lift slightly up off the wrists lengthening up through the arms. The shoulders are rolled onto the back and ears are more aligned with the shoulders which brings the spine into better alignment. The lengthening continues up the spine where the hips are being sent up and back bringing most of the body's weight with them. The legs have a gentle micro bend in the knees to allow for tight hamstrings and the heels are sinking back towards the earth. There is an inward rotation to the thighs keeping them turned on and the lower ribs are knit together which gives better engagement through the abdominals. Her gaze is towards her feet/shins and there is good distance between her hands and feet.

There's a lot going on here! Let's start at the hands: fingers are nice and wide. She is pushing into the pads at the base of the fingers and sides of the palms but being careful to lift slightly up off the wrists lengthening up through the arms. The shoulders are rolled onto the back and ears are more aligned with the shoulders which brings the spine into better alignment. The lengthening continues up the spine where the hips are being sent up and back bringing most of the body's weight with them. The legs have a gentle micro bend in the knees to allow for tight hamstrings and the heels are sinking back towards the earth. There is an inward rotation to the thighs keeping them turned on and the lower ribs are knit together which gives better engagement through the abdominals. Her gaze is towards her feet/shins and there is good distance between her hands and feet.

  This last picture is almost identical to the one above but for one difference: she is now straightening the legs (not locking the knees) sending her heels down to the ground. When the heels are able to touch the earth, there is an even stronger inward rotation of the thigh creating a solid base for the posture. Notice the arrows going up the back and down the leg. This is where the weight goes when properly aligned. 

This last picture is almost identical to the one above but for one difference: she is now straightening the legs (not locking the knees) sending her heels down to the ground. When the heels are able to touch the earth, there is an even stronger inward rotation of the thigh creating a solid base for the posture. Notice the arrows going up the back and down the leg. This is where the weight goes when properly aligned. 

We hope you are able to find this pose breakdown helpful to your practice. Please don't ever hesitate to email us or ask us questions in the studio when you come in for a class.

 

See your smiling faces soon!

Grace and peace, 

GYC