Find an invigorating extension and twist in the spine, create deep opening in the hamstrings, and release stress when moving into Revolved Downward Facing Dog, Parivrtta Adho Mukha Svanasana. Revolved Downward Facing Dog takes a little bit of coordination and balance. Move into the variation that best serves your body in order to receive the benefits of the pose.
To move into Downward Facing Dog: Begin on the hands and knees, a Table-Top position. Stack the shoulders over the palms and the hips over the knees. Spread the fingers wide and press down into the finger-pads as well into as the palms of the hands.
Tuck the back toes under and begin to straighten the legs and the arms. Do not “lock-out” the elbows and the knees. Press the hips up and back and move into Downward Facing Dog. Palms should be at shoulder-width distance apart and feet should be at hip-width distance apart. Bend the knees as much as you need to create a long, extended spine, rather than a rounded one.
Allow the head and neck to completely release. Draw the shoulder blades flush to the back. Notice if the ribs are protruding outward. Draw the lower ribs inward toward the spine. Engage the quadriceps and slowly allow the hamstrings to open over time. Shift weight in towards the heels and allow the heels to reach towards the ground. (It is not important that the heels touch the floor.) Draw the inner thighs back towards the back of the room.
Option to use a chair to support Downward Facing Dog. Make sure the chair is supported either resting on a yoga mat or against a wall so that it doesn’t slide while you are in the pose. Take the same instructions as above but instead of placing the palms on the ground, place the palms on the seat of the chair or even on the back of the chair for more height.
Stay here and breathe, for 3-5 rounds of breath. Draw the low-belly in on the exhales.
Create long and smooth inhales and exhales. Work to match the length of each breath as well as the amount of oxygen you breathe in and breathe out.
To move into Revolved Downward Facing Dog: Shift the weight to the right hand and lift the left hand off of the mat. Grab for the outside edge of the right shin or ankle, or place the left palm on the outside edge of the right foot, if accessible. Bend the right knee as a variation if needed to make the contact of the right hand accessible.
Continue to press the right palm evenly into the ground and continue to engage or draw the shoulder blades flush to the back. The torso is twisting open towards the right and the gaze is looking under the right armpit and shoulder. Option to lift the gaze up towards the ceiling if it feels okay on the neck.
You can use the left palm to gently pull you deeper into the twist, drawing your belly button up towards the ceiling. Never force yourself deeper into the pose, make gradual and mindful movements in order to keep the body safe. On an inhale, lengthen through the crown of the head. On an exhale, allow the breath and left palm to gently pull you in deeper. Check-in with the quality of the breath to see if you have come in too deep.
Option to lift the right heel and rise to the toes of the right foot. This variation is a little more challenging, but it allows for a nice stretch up the IT band or Iliotibial band, the ligament that runs down outside edge of the hip towards the shin.
The most important aspects of the pose are to create length in the spine, to feel safe and supported while in the pose, and to allow the breath to flow in a smooth fashion. Often times, if the breath feels labored, we can check in with ourselves to notice if we have come too deeply into the pose, or perhaps try out another variation of the posture in order to better support the flow of breath.
Stay in Revolved Downward Facing Dog for up to 3-5 breaths. Create long and smooth inhales and exhales.
To come out of the pose: Slowly unwind and bring the left palm back to the ground, into Downward Facing Dog. Repeat the same instructions on the opposite side. Move with compassion and intention.
Option to come into Child’s Pose in order to rest after taking both sides of the pose. Bring the knees to the wide-edges of the mat and the big toes to touch, if accessible. Walk the palms forward and allow the hips to sink over the heels. Stay here and breathe. Notice how you feel. Perhaps you go through the day feeling a little more invigorated, light and more mentally grounded and clear.
Check with your doctor before performing any form of exercise including yoga and breathing techniques. Always honor your body. If a posture gives you pain, gently come out.
Christi Iacono, owner of In Rhythms Yoga
IRY offers regularly scheduled vinyasa-based classes on, Sat., Sun. (Yin-Yoga) and Wed. mornings as well as a Tues. evening class.
Special Holiday Yoga Events include:
*Yin Yoga and Trunk Show on Sun., Dec. 21st. Yin yoga is from 10-11:15 a.m. and Tae Clothing Trunk Show begins at 11:30 a.m.
* Special Holiday Restorative Candlelight Class on Monday evening, Dec. 29th, from 5:30-6:45 pm. RSVP for both of these events to Christi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Go to www.inrhythmsyoga.com to see the full schedule, instructors and for private lessons.