Last week while reading my May/June issue of Yoga Journal, I started getting a little annoyed (enough so that I started a mild rant to my husband) about advertisers using models who are doing yoga asanas without proper alignment.
I was miffed! How can a business expect me to trust their product if their UpwardFacing Dog is a mess?!? To compound the problem, they are sending the wrong message to the public! As long as you are smiling, itʼs fine that your shoulders arenʼt safe or hands arenʼt firmly planted. Ugh!
Then I thought this is the perfect opportunity to share the “right” and“wrong” way to do the poses. Seeing the sunny side, lemons to lemonade and all that stuff.
This posture is commonly practiced incorrectly becausethe whole body is not fully engaged. The Belly needs to pull up, glutes squeeze, and strong legs. This model does look engaged.
My issue with this photo is the model has the head of her shoulders rotated forward and down. This is putting too much pressure on the shoulder joint & tendons. Her hips are lifted higher than the shoulders which sends more weight forward into the shoulders.
Her chin is lifted which strains the back of the neck. Also look at her hands. They appear to be clawing the mat rather than firmly planted. Perhaps thatʼs intentional, but looks like strain rather than efficient work to me.
In this pose, my shoulders are further from the ground than my elbows and they are protected. Iʼm using my front core, glutes and legs to support the work of the chest and triceps. Hands are firmly planted and I am looking down, so I can extend through the crown of my head.
Upward Facing Dog
This is the photo that really got me going! The model appears to be experiencing a moment of divine bliss by looking at her face, but how with the tension in the upper back with her trapezius pulling her shoulders up to her ears?
The first step to correct this would be to firmly plant hands and press toenails into the ground. Next strongly engage glutes (squeeze!), so the lower belly begins to rotate the front of pelvis up and tailbone down. This creates a strong base and support for the shoulder blades to move down the back and collarbones to widen. Lastly, lift the head from the base (back) of skull up.
While practicing Upward Facing Dog, work to experience lift and opening of front body by engaging legs, glutes and lower belly while pressing down with hands and feet. There can be a slight upward gaze without compressing the back of the neck.
Warrior 2 is an asana that Iʼve been experimenting with and continues to evolve. Hereʼs what Iʼve found.
First the back foot and leg drive the posture. The model would get more leverage (use of the leg) if the foot were angled in. Toes angle at 45 rather than 90 degrees. Next notice on the back leg and hip how there is a straight line and no distinction in the joint? Iʼd recommend pressing the head of the femur (top of the back leg) towards the front knee. This action will elevate the pelvis off of the front leg. The final cue is to hug outer hips and glutes in. This will rotate the front of the pelvis up and more sensation will be experienced in the hips because space is created in the joint. Lastly, her shoulders are leaning forward of the hips. Her torso should appear to be in Mountain pose.
Work on the movement of the head of the thigh bones to lift the pelvis up and create space in the hip joint. It is the top of the back leg presses forward and front leg down. Next rotate the front of the pelvis up.
Comment and let me know what poses or asanas you would like yoga tips on for a future Not This! post.