Guest Blogger: Dan – I’m Back….

 

Guest Blogger, Dan is back from his travels and back in the hot room… 

 

Forgive me for I have sinned, it has been quite a while since last we spoke.

 

 

In that time I’ve been on three continents, across the date line a couple of times and slept on too many beds, couches, vans, chairs, floors, boats and planes to mention. Maybe a few beaches too, soz. There were positives and negatives to all of this. 

 

 

I’ll get to the negatives later, the positives were a great trip, with great company, in some truly wonderful locations and a boss tan. Oh yes the tan, Downward Facing Fatboy doesn’t make it to sunny climes, or y’know daylight much. So after a month on tropical beaches practicing my favourite of all Yoga poses, Unconscious Bear, I was a few shades darker than normal without the smell of biscuits normally associated with “Scouse” and “tan”. It was a very healthy looking DFF who returned to the hot room. I discussed “prolonging” the healthy look via St Tropez with my very own Fairy Yogamother, her advice was “Do it! Start a trend!”, I think her real intention was to laugh at me getting volleyed round the Bierkeller for having a spray tan as opposed to starting a Scouse lad spray tan revolution.

 

 

The return to the hot room is what highlighted the negatives of my trip, sleeping in a variety of positions, some less appropriate than others, meant that I sounded like a fresh bowl of Rice Krispies throughout the first lesson, I snapped in alligator, crackled in cobra and popped in down dog. It felt great!! As always I came out of the class feeling refreshed with the added advantage of a loose relaxed feeling to my joints and back, the perfect remedy to 25 hours on a plane and a stag weekend in Berlin. I really didn’t realise how much tension had built up and time spent in the hot room was and is a great release.

 

 

Due to a change in circumstances I couldn’t come to Hot Pilates and following some discussions with Fairy Yogamother, she suggested I try Hot Fusion. A great extension to the blog and to my yoga-ness, we thought.

 

 

How different could it be? VERY, thats how different. From now attending a couple of Fusion classes it has become quite clear that Pilates has a lot more cardio work about it compared to Fusion and there is more repetition in Pilates with more positions. To my untrained eye it feels like each Pilates class has between 15 and twenty positions often with increasing levels of difficulty within each position. Fusion combines elements of Pilates, along with Yoga and Body Sculpture into fewer positions, with more focus on staying in position for longer periods than in Pilates. For me this is very difficult, but still feels good afterwards. 

 

 

I would recommend it to all looking for a different experience to Pilates. One day I hope to make it to a Yoga class with the Fairy herself, but there’s plenty of time for that. Gotta get good at Fusion first. Table top before you Mountain Climber DFF, baby steps.

 

 

Namaste lids.

 

 

Read Dan’s previous blog here.

 

 

Pilates at Absolute Yoga, Crosby (Liverpool)

 

The first class is free for new students and then choose from…

 

Special Offers for New Students

 

How to Book a Class at Absolute Yoga, Crosby (Liverpool)
Email: info@absoluteyogacrosby.co.uk
Call: 0151 928 1029
Book a class online here

 

Find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram…

                                   

twitter_icon

facebook_icon

instagram_icon

 

Share

Anatomy Trains in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)

If you practise yoga regularly then, by now, you are probably very familiar with the instructions that accompany postures such as Downward Facing Dog (DFD). However, you may not be aware of the associated anatomical action which accompanies each alignment point. For example, when in Adho Mukha Svanasana you are asked to “turn the upper thighs inwards” because performing this action causes the femoral neck to press the pelvis back.  

When performing DFD, students are also asked to “press all fingers into the mat but especially the index finger and thumb”. Pressing into the thumbs and bases of the index fingers in Adho Mukha Svanasana will allow you to straighten the arms and keep the wrists stable on the mat for the duration of the posture.

However, this action also is also associated with opening up the chest during this inversion. The pressure applied to the thumbs and index fingers in DFD forms the beginning of an “anatomy train” because:

 

(1) The biceps relax which releases their pull on the scapulae

(2) The triceps contract 

(3) The relaxation of the biceps makes it easier to pull the scapulae down the back (using the lower trapezius and lattisimus dorsi muscles)

(4) The lowering of the scapulae makes it possible to press them into the rib cage  which subsequently lifts and opens the chest

 

Accordingly, pressing into the index fingers and thumbs in Downward Facing Dog ultimately assists in opening up the chest. The same concept applies to many other asanas which involve similar action of the index finger and thumbs. For example, in Virabhadrasana I, when you are told to bring the hands into prayer over the head you may be given the instruction “do not to cross the thumbs”. This is so that your thumbs are in a position to press against each other which assists in opening and lifting up the chest.  

 

This is the third article in the series taking a closer look Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog). The other two articles can be viewed here:

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)

Dealing with Wrist Pain in Downward Facing Dog

Share

Dealing with Wrist Pain in Downward Facing Dog

Adho Mukha Svanasana, or Downward Facing Dog, is a yoga posture which has many benefits to offer the yoga practitioner such as stretching out the hamstrings, back, shoulders and calves and generally strengthening the arms and legs.

However, some people find that they are unable to reap the rewards associated with Downward Facing Dog (DFD) because they are unable to comfortably hold this posture due to wrist pain that they experience whilst in the pose.

Wrist pain in DFD is a common complaint and can usually be addressed by correcting the student’s alignment particularly at the fingers, hands and the wrists. However, in some cases, alignment correction will not solve the problem and the student must seek alternative solutions. 

If you suffer with wrist pain in DFD then follow the guidelines below to bring an end to this problem so that you can begin to experience the benefits that holding Adho Mukha Svanasana has to offer your asana practice.

1. Check your alignment

Wrist pain in DFD is usually caused by incorrect alignment of the fingers, thumbs, hands and wrists. Ensure that you are spreading and creating lots of space between all of the fingers. Let the middle finger face forward and rotate the index finger slightly towards the thumb. To prevent wrist injuries, follow the guidelines in the image below.

Wrist

In particular, you should press all fingers into the mat but especially the index finger and thumb and the base of the little finger. Lift up from the wrist and do not let this area collapse down. 

See here for more information on preparing for and performing DFD. If you are following the correct alignment shown in the image above but you still feel pain in your wrists then try some of the suggestions below. 

2. Alter the angle of your wrists

You can do this by rolling up a yoga mat or towel and placing it under the hands. Alternatively, you could use a foam wedge which is a yoga prop that will reduce the flexion of the wrist by about 10% in DFD. 

4

(Image from Body Positive Yoga. See here to read a fantastic article on Downward Facing Dog for Beginners). 

3. Try an alternative posture

If you are still experiencing wrist pain, or perhaps arthritis is causing you discomfort in this posture, then another option is to try Dolphin pose by lowering the forearms to the mat as shown in the image below (shoulder distance apart and parallel to each other). However, Dolphin is quite an intense posture and, whilst addressing the issue of wrist pain in Downward Facing Dog, it is quite challenging to hold this posture and requires a certain amount of upper body strength.

Dolphin

4. Perform the posture against a wall

Downward Facing Dog can be performed against a wall and will still offer the same benefits as the floor posture but without the added wrist pressure. Place the hands on the wall shoulder-distance apart and at shoulder height. Press into the wall with the hands, just as you would against the floor, and lift the sit bones up and back, lengthen the spine, push the shoulder blades down towards the tailbone and hold the head between the arms. 

Wall dog

4. Try some wrist stretches

Wrist stretches can elongate the muscles surrounding the wrist helping to reduce aches and pains in this area. Reach the right arm out in front of you with palm facing down. Use your left hand to lift the right palm up, as though you are trying to point the fingers towards the ceiling. Return the palm to a downward facing position and now, using the left had, press lightly on the back of the hand so that the fingers now face downwards. Repeat on the left side.  

Wrist 2

If you have worked your way through all of these suggestions and you still experience wrist pain then do not perform this asana. There is no requirement in yoga that you become a master of all postures. Instead, take Balasana, keep the connection with your breath and join back in on the next posture in the sequence.

This is the second article in the series taking a closer look Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog). The other two articles can be viewed here:

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog). 

Anatomy trains in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog).

Share

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)

Ryan in Adho Mukha Svanasana (AH-doh MOO-kah shvah-NAHS-anna)  adho = downward  mukha = face svana = dog 

Ryan in Adho Mukha Svanasana (AH-doh MOO-kah shvah-NAHS-anna)  adho = downward  mukha = face svana = dog

Adho Mukha Svanasana, or Downward Facing Dog, is probably one of the most well known yoga postures. Even if you have never taken a yoga class in your life then the chances are that you have still heard of this pose.

Downward Facing Dog (DFD) has many benefits to offer the yoga practitioner such as stretching out the hamstrings, back, shoulders and calves and generally strengthening the arms and legs.

DFD is also a restorative posture due to the position of the head relative to the heart. Accordingly, in addition to its many physiological benefits, when performed regularly, DFD also assists in calming the body, reducing stress and symptoms of mild depression.

It is quite common to perform DFD many times throughout an asana practice. Indeed, DFD is one of the 12 postures performed throughout Sun Salutations and other Vinyasa flows. It is also not uncommon to move quite quickly between the postures of a Vinyasa flow. Accordingly, it is easy to sometimes lose focus on the correct alignment and performance of Adho Mukha Svanasana. However, incorrect alignment in DFD can lead to injuries of the back, neck, shoulders, arms, legs and wrists and so it is imperative that students perform this posture with due care and attention to the body. 

Preparing for and Performing Downward Facing Dog

1. DFD should only be performed after the spine has been suitably prepared and “warmed up”. This can be done by performing gentle stretches that take the spine through its entire range of movements such as extension and flexion in Cat/Cow, rotation such as a seated spinal twist and lateral rotation in Sukhasana. 

2. Following this, from table top position, ensure that the hands are shoulder width apart and the wrists are slightly forward of the shoulders. The knees should be directly below the hips and the calves should point straight back from the knees.

3. Ensure that you are spreading and creating lots of space between all of the fingers. Let the middle finger face forward and rotate the index finger slightly towards the thumb. To prevent wrist injuries, follow the guidelines in the image below.

Wrist

Press all fingers into the mat but especially the index finger and thumb and the base of the little finger. Lift up from the wrist and do not let this area collapse down. 

4. Tuck the toes under and inhale and, as you exhale, begin to lift the knees way from the mat. Keep your knees slightly bent and the heels away from the mat. Begin to raise the back of the pelvis upwards and backwards and raise the sit bones up towards the ceiling. 

5. Now turn your attention towards the legs. Starting at the ankles, begin to draw the inside of the legs up into the groin. Do not forget the connection with the breath. Be aware of your inhalations and exhalations. 

6. On the next exhalation, begin to straighten the knees (but do not lock them) and push the thighs back and start to lower the heels down towards the mat, but do not worry if the heels do not connect with the mat. Turn your attention to your upper thighs and try to turn them inwards slightly. This action causes the femoral neck to press the pelvis back.  Narrow the front of the pelvis by directing the belly button towards the top of the thighs. 

7. Turn your attention towards your arms. Maintain correct alignment of the fingers and thumbs and begin to firm the shoulder blades against the back aiming to widen the blades whilst drawing them down towards the tailbone. The head should rest between the arms (do not let it just hang there in a relaxed state pointing downwards). Keep the shoulders away from the ears and take the gaze towards the drishti point (focus point) of the navel. You may not see the navel though because your chest may obscure the view.

8. Hold for 1 – 5 breaths, depending on the strength of your practice. Beginners should aim to hold for 1- 2 breaths only. If you have high blood pressure then you should not hold this posture, especially in a hot room, for more than 1-2 breaths. If you are coming out of the posture before other students then drop down to Balasana and re-join the group when you are ready.

Whilst holding DFD you should be aware of the position of your spine. The goal in DFD is not to get the heels on the mat but to get the spine as long as possible, stretching from the neck all the way down to the tailbone. Also, be aware of the weight distribution between the upper and lower body. The image below shows the ideal ratios:

Ratio

Image from Robin, M ( 2009) A Handbook for Yogasana Teachers: The Incorporation of Neuroscience, Physiology, and Anatomy into the Practice. Wheatmark: Arizona)

The ratio shown in the picture is that of an intermediate practitioner. Beginners tend to display more 50:50 hands to feet. Intermediate students are able to take more weight in the lower body in this asana because they are better able to move the pelvis upwards and backwards which makes the legs more vertical and lengthens the spine. If you struggle to hold your weight in the arms in DFD then try slightly moving the pelvis backward and the tailbone further up towards to ceiling. This should move more of the weight into your legs, decreasing the intensity in the arms.

Wrist pain in DFD is a common complaint and some students find that they are unable to hold this posture with comfort due to the wrist pain that they experience whilst in the pose. This issue can usually be addressed by correcting the student’s alignment, particularly at the fingers, hands and the wrists. However, in some cases, alignment correction will not solve the problem and the student must seek alternative solutions. See here to read more about preventing wrist pain in DFD.

As with any yoga posture, you should listen to:

(1) Your teacher – listen to the specific instructions given on alignment

(2) Your breath – if you cannot keep your breath calm with long, deep and slow inhalations and exhalations then move into Balasana (child’s pose). 

(3) Your body – there is no requirement in yoga that you become a master of all postures. If it does not feel good for you then do not perform this posture. Instead, take Balasana and join back in on the next posture in the sequence.

DFD is a wonderful posture which opens up the body throughout the asana practice and calms the body outside of practice times. By paying careful attention to your position and alignment you will reap all of the rewards that this posture has to offer your yoga practice and your life beyond the mat. 

This is the first article in the series taking a closer look Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog). The other two articles can be viewed here:

Dealing with Wrist Pain in Downward Facing Dog

Anatomy trains in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog).

Share

Easter Timetable

 

Good Friday

8.00am Hot Yoga (Becca)

10.00am Hot Fusion (Clare)

 
Saturday

9.00am Yin Yoga (Jo)

11.00am Hot Fusion (Clare)

12.30pm Introduction to Yoga (Rachel)

 
Easter Sunday

Closed

 
Bank Holiday Monday

8.30am Hot Yoga (Jennie)

10.00am Hot Fusion (Clare)

 
 

Share