Adho muka svasana
The Quintessential Pose
This quintessential pose is found in every style of yoga and at least once in every class… sometimes many, many, times in one class! And if you are not doing it correctly it can cause damage to your shoulders, upper back, neck and even lower back and sacrum. So let’s talk about how to do it.
Start in childs pose, just to get ready… and stretch your arms to the top of the mat, should distance, and really pull back from the hips. You are trying to stretch the side body to get in there and press with hands and pull with hips. Use the roots of your fingers more than the wrist. If you have wrist tension, pain or lack of flexibility then you will need to really focus on the roots of the fingers and using the muscles of the forearms. From this awareness, move to tables pose.
In tables pose, bend the points of the elbows out a little bit but keep the fingers straight forward. Feel the shoulders. Now, slowly rotate the elbows to point back to your knees. If your joints are tight then you may need to turn out the fingers, but keep the index forward with a straight line with the wrist.
Tuck the toes under and lift the knees a couple of inches…. Feel the place your toes connect with your foot. Now, using the belly and thighs to pull back, lift the hips back and up… imagine you could scrape your ribs on your thighs on the way. Using the forearms again, you are going to straighten the arms like you did in child’s pose… really stretch back as if you could lift the arms off the floor and magically lift up to standing on your feet at the back of the mat. Your shoulder blade slide around to the sides of the ribs, as you push the hands towards each other –strong pinky sides of the hands. While you strongly push your hands forward, use your thighs to pull back, your belly to pull up and heels to pull outward. Lastly, lift your sitting bones up as you point your tail bone to the top of the wall behind you… strong belly arms and legs support back hips and shoulders respectively.
Stretch away from your hands, rather than sink in to them. Pull away from the floor, rather than fall to it and lift your sitting bones rather than round them.