I practice most days and vary what I’m doing (Saturday was aerial yoga, Sunday was a long Yin session and Monday a hot “Bikram” like practice and today a Vinyasa).
But every day there’s a Downward Facing Dog. Why? It’s my favorite pose for spinal extension. It’s like traction. It’s not a resting pose as I’ve heard some teachers say. You are in full engagement to create space!
•begin in child’s pose and transition to downward facing dog
•spread fingers wide and press with base of pointer finger and thumb to protect wrist and stabilize shoulders
•rotate biceps and crease of elbow forward
•lift shoulders up towards hips
•pull lower belly and lower ribs in to engage core (feel slight tuck of tailbone)
•lift hips and sit bones towards the ceiling.
•press top of thigh bones and inner thighs back (internal spiral)
•lift knee caps to engage quadriceps
•press heals to the floor
•ankles disappear behind second and third toe
Notice how my spine cascades downward from the pelvic bowl and the weight is in my legs. I’m using leg strength to pull body back and core strength to support the length of the spine. This is a leg posture and not an arm or upper body.
Take a photo of yourself in down dog. Is the weight in your shoulders? Is your upper back hunched. Then take the hamstrings out of the equation for now and bend your knees. Press your ribs to your thighs and keep hips lifted high so your spine cascades long to the floor. Further modification can be puppy pose if you have wrist or shoulder issues.