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Downward Dog priorities?

Savate2010-07-05 00:34:24 +0000 #1
New to yoga and mostly doing self-taught practice at home.

As am working toward a fully straight leg downward dog and working through the hamstring/lower back "tightness", should I work on getting the heels down first or is it better to let the heels lift and knees bend to allow the pelvis to be pushed back further?

What should be a natural progression to work toward a straight-legged downward dog?

Please excuse the simplicity of the question...
InnerAthlete2010-07-05 00:36:57 +0000 #2
Simple is best. My thanks.

The short answer is that the integrity of the spine is paramount.

Why? Because it is the hub or network for the nervous system.

You can, in your pose, experience it in both of the ways outlined in your inquiry.

However I would advise a beginning student to bend the knees, lift the heels, and then tip the pelvis forward (anteriorly) in such a way that the lower belly moves closer to the top of the thighs.

While it may be semantics, the pelvis is not pushed.

If your body is not yet ready for a neutral spine AND heels on the mat, AND you want to experience that particular grounding in this particular pose, place the heels on the wall so that they are lifted and connecting.
Hubert2010-07-05 00:42:42 +0000 #3
I found that downward dog is not a primary hamstring or calf opener. These must be adressed by other postures. (virabadhrasana, supta padanghustasana for example)

Trying to extend the knees and putting heals down when you are clearly not able to do this, generates too much pressure in the thoracic spine ... it is impossible to keep the spine neutral.

I also found parsva uttanasana to be a helpful preparatory pose for unmodified adho mukha svanasana.

Take these from a fellow practicioner ... I am no teacher.
Savate2010-07-05 01:37:04 +0000 #4
InnerAthelete,

I will work on this like you recommend. Thanks!

Hubert,

Since I'm new to Yoga, how can I find what these look like (parsva uttanasana for example?)

Can you recommend a source, book/DVD/internet?

Thanks!

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