Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ice cream and dog poses

I was listening to a John Schumacher class the other day.  A person in the live class was using props in a way was less than ideal.  The student said that it felt pretty good.  Schumacher quipped, "Breyers is pretty good too, until you've tried Haagen Dazs."

I think too often in our yoga practice we are satisfied with "pretty good", or perhaps in the Iyengar yoga world with "not bad."   Poses should be delicious, full of nectar and promise.  We should be strive for the Haagen Dazs of asana.

I start this week with a "not bad" version of Adho Mukha Svanasana:
So the basics are there: my legs are straight, my arms are straight(ish), my hands are pressing into the floor.  However, I have an issue with my shoulders being uneven and my forearms dropping a bit.  To see this more clearly, I put my hands to the wall.
While pressing my hands to the wall, gives me more length in my torso, it shows the imbalance in my shoulders more clearly as well as a greater drop in my forearms.  Part of this drop in the forearms is due to the carrying angle; however, a good portion is due lazy arms.  So let's fix that!
Oh, that's better.  Two blocks placed under the forearms gives a lot of nectar to my pose.  The shoulders are even, the forearms are lifted, yet I can still get the length in the torso.  Even those that do not have a pronounced imbalance can feel that one forearm will press more heavily into the block than the other.  This work is good for everyone.

Maybe the difficult part for you in AMS is getting weight in your heels.  Well, who doesn't need more weight in their heels?
By placing my hands on blocks, the angle of my pose changes, and voila, more weight in the heels.  Now, attempt to keep that weight in your heels as you move the blocks out of the way.

Want to work harder?  Here are some ideas:
If hands on blocks gives more weight to the heels, then feet on blocks would give more weight to the hands.  This also helps me get more weight on the thumb side of the hand and more lift in the hips.

As you advance in your practice, there come some more difficult Adho Mukha Vrksasana (handstand) poses, where the arms are in different positions.  Why not practice them in Adho Mukha Svanasana first and get a taste of that sweetness?

Angle your blocks up the wall.  Then turn your hands all the way out.  This one is great for those with tight shoulders.

Next turn your hands all the way in.  I find this one particularly nice for those that hyperextend their elbows.

This one has a special sweetness, almost an acquired taste.  The fingers are turned to the floor (thumbs out).  There is a strong external rotation of the shoulders.  You can see my toes are trying to help take the weight off my hands.  I think this pose stretches the forearms, which is difficult to do.  Chances are, you will feel the stretch in your wrists.

You need to find the use of props that lead you to Haagen Dazs poses.  Don't be satisfied with Breyers.

This week my regular photographer was out of town, so all of these pictures were taken by Peggy Kelley at her home studio.  Alas, there aren't any cats in her studio.  Many thanks to her all the same.

1 comment:

  1. I think the heels up and the palms turned in flavors look best on you.