September Pose of the Month
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Adho (downward) Mukha (facing) Svana (dog) asana (posture)
By: Alison Bernansco
From hands and knees curl your toes under, lift your hips and extend your thighs back. Your hips will become the apex of your pose. You can gauge how far to place your hands and feet in relation to one another by coming forward into plank pose and pressing back into down dog. Palms are flat*, shoulder width apart, pointer fingers (or, some people prefer middle fingers) parallel. Arms are straight, you’re winging out the lats (cape shaped muscles of the mid-upper back) to broaden the surface of your back, and you’re pushing the ground away to create space in your shoulders. *The palms are energized (we call this a ‘hasta bandha’), and though the metacarpals (where the fingers meet the base of the palm) and fingerpads are grounded, the inner arch of the palm is ever so slightly lifted. You can think of ‘suction cup’ hands, or the action it would take to palm a basketball under each hand.
Gaze is a few inches in front of the vicinity of your toes unless instructed otherwise (don’t be fooled by me checking out my hasta bandha in this pic!). Soften at the base of your neck to free up space, and let the weight of your skull help you to release more deeply. If you temporarily gaze all the way to your feet you should find them hips width apart and parallel. Heels may never touch the ground, that’s an anatomical thing you may or may not be built for, so instead let them migrate in the direction of earth while simultaneously stretching the heels of your feet toward the back
of the room.
Thigh muscles (quadriceps) activate to lift your kneecaps and press your thigh bones straight back, as your sitz bones (the rings of bone at the base of your pelvis) reach back and apart. Give this pose time to become a ‘resting place’. If it’s new, you can expect it to be a challenge! With each practice, notice yourself able to spend more time comfortably in your Down-Dog. Remember, yoga doesn’t happen all at once. The poses start when you’re ready to leave them.
Magic takes time, trust the process.