Sunday, 23 September 2012

I spent all day moving.  Heading into YTT at 7pm, I was exhausted.  I always have the attention span of a gnat, but for this particular practice, my attention span was barely existent.  I needed a really long nap.  To make matters worse, I found myself on a mat next to the class 18-year-old/Malibu Beach Barbie/Super model.  Okay, she’s not really 18, or a super model, but when someone younger, thinner and much, much more flexible than you dips into a Downward Facing Dog beside you, it’s mildly distracting and terrible for your self-esteem. 

So, I was trying not to focus on anyone else around me, trying to focus on my own breathing and my own practice when, hanging deep into a Downward Dog, I noticed a very small person at the back of the room.  I blinked.  Nope, definitely not imagining it.  There was a small child on the last row of mats.  He was about seven or eight maybe.  I leapt forward, came out of Sun Salute, took a breath, and went into the next series.  In the next Downward Dog, I looked between my feet again.  Yep, he was definitely there.  He was still there.  Why was there a child in a YTT session?  Did he belong to one of the students?  Or one of the teachers?  Was he a street urchin who had crept into a yoga class to escape the cool Fall evening air?  Every time I came into a forward fold or Downward Dog, I couldn’t help but look at him.  It’s not that I was annoyed by his presence but it was completely bewildering. 

When I wasn’t fixating on the presence of an eight-year-old in the class, post-practice attention went to learning about Downward Facing Dog.  Did you know everybody’s shoulders and elbows rotate a little bit differently?  Our arms lift and separate at slightly different angles, which is why everyone practices DD slightly differently.  For years I’ve had the ‘hips-distance’ rule preached at me by various teachers – both hands and feet separated the distance of your hips.  But because my shoulders rotate in a way that means my arms are slightly angled outwards when I lift them, it’s actually more comfortable for me to spread my hands a little wider when I go into DD. 

Adho Mukha Svanasana (From Yoga Journal)

(AH-doh MOO-kah shvah-NAHS-anna)
adho = downward
mukha = face
svana = dog 
Step by Step
Come onto the floor on your hands and knees. Set your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly forward of your shoulders. Spread your palms, index fingers parallel or slightly turned out, and turn your toes under.
Exhale and lift your knees away from the floor. At first keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis and press it lightly toward the pubis. Against this resistance, lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling, and from your inner ankles draw the inner legs up into the groins.
Then with an exhalation, push your top thighs back and stretch your heels onto or down toward the floor. Straighten your knees but be sure not to lock them. Firm the outer thighs and roll the upper thighs inward slightly. Narrow the front of the pelvis.
Firm the outer arms and press the bases of the index fingers actively into the floor. From these two points lift along your inner arms from the wrists to the tops of the shoulders. Firm your shoulder blades against your back, then widen them and draw them toward the tailbone. Keep the head between the upper arms; don't let it hang.
Adho Mukha Svanasana is one of the poses in the traditional Sun Salutation sequence. It's also an excellent yoga asana all on its own. Stay in this pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes. Then bend your knees to the floor with an exhalation and rest in Child's Pose.

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