Morning! Did you start this beautiful day with breathing? A bit of meditation? Massive rehydration after a good night's sleep? Breakfast? Me neither. It's a work in progress.
Today involves my favorite, downward facing dog. I'll include plank, chaturanga, and upward facing dog. Ready?
Building from the the half sun salute:
Stand, hands at heart center
Inhale arms up to mountain pose
exhale dive forward to forward fold
inhale to flat back
exhale to forward fold
hands to the mat
step or jump both feet back to plank
inhale upward facing dog
exhale downward facing dog
From the forward fold, bend your knees more to reach both hands to the mat. Step, or jump, (I step) both feet back to plank. Plank is similar to a push-up position. The difference being, your back is level, DO NOT drop your hips. This will stress your lower back. Tuck the tailbone under to engage the core. Core, quads, upper back, all is involved in this. Your hips should be level with your shoulders. Remember to keep shoulders relaxed! Adjust in the position until you feel stable, almost comfortable. Almost. I push my heels back, reach my head forward, push shoulder blades together. It does help. Breathing helps too.
This one can be difficult. Super similar to a push up, the technique is a little different. From Plank, on the exhale, lower yourself down to almost touching the ground. When doing push ups, elbows tend to fly out and resemble chicken wings. In this, elbows stay tucked in close to the ribs. Keep shoulders rolled back, never crowd your ears. Don't drop your hips, keep the back level. This engages your total core, shoulders, back, legs, all of it. This one is about control so keep it slow. In the picture, my elbows should be closer to my ribs, they are sticking out too far. Don't forget to breath!
Modification: if you are not able to do chaturanga, it is ok to put your knees on the ground to lower yourself. It is more important to protect your back and practice control than to do the full position.
Upward Facing Dog:
At the end of chaturanga, you are on your belly, hands by your shoulders. For up dog, straighten your arms and lift your face to the ceiling. This creates a bend in your back and can stress your low back. If the full up dog is uncomfortable, modify it to cobra. This means you only straighten your arms enough to lift your chest off the ground, belly and hips stay on the mat. Up dog lifts your hips off the ground, cobra leaves them on the ground. As your back strengthens, you will be able to comfortably do a full up dog. So from the exhale chaturanga, inhale to upward facing dog or cobra.
Downward Facing Dog:
From up dog, curl toes under and push back to downward facing dog. Hips are high in the air. So important to keep shoulders relaxed in this one. Press shoulder blades together, reach hips high and back. Let your head hang down, nod yes and no to relax the neck. This is a resting pose. Believe it sweetheart. bend the hips side to side and feel the stretch in your sides. Bend one knee and press out with the other foot to feel good stretches in your hamstrings. Alot of core work can happen from here. If you ever go to a core or power class, you will come to appreciate the downward facing dog. It's rather awesome.
We will break there for now. To finish this, from down dog, look at the mat between your hands, step or jump (I step) your feet between your hands. Inhale all the way up to mountain, exhale to heart center.
Please remember, if you feel pain or a twinge, modify the pose. No pose is so important that you jeopardize the health of your muscles and joints.
However, there is difference between pain and sensation. Sensation is what you feel during a stretch. Sensation is good for you, live for it. 🙂