Monday, April 13, 2015

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana with help from the experts

In Iyengar yoga land, there isn't a "cat pose".  The only feline tribute is simhasana or lion pose.  Maybe someday I will campaign for the renaming of Eka Pada Sirasana (foot behind the head) to cat pose.  Cats are masters of it after all.  Besides, it's confusing having two separate poses with the same name.

There are two tributes to the dog: Adho Mukha Svanasana (AMS) and Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (UMS).  For today's fun with props, I enlisted the help of my friend Leann and her two canines.
 In this first photo, Leann shows her regular Urdhva Mukha Svanasana.  The big dog thinks she could move her chest forward a bit.

 So here, we've tied a strap around Leann's arms.  This strongly encourages the chest to move forward of the arms. 

 If you looked closely at Leann's feet in the strap assisted pose, you noticed that her right foot was turned in a bit more than the left.  Here we put a block between her feet to keep the foot pointing straight back.
The first photo has one block.  This is good for if you wanted to move in and out of UMS with a block between your feet.
In the second photo, there are two blocks turned on their side so the entire length of the foot can press into the block.  The little dog likes this one better.

Another use for the block is between the thighs.  When you press a block between your thighs, it is easier to access the muscles of the outer thigh.  This gives Leann more lift as well as better awareness of her legs.

Clearly a crowd-pleaser, pressing into a strap around the calves brings awareness to the inner thigh as well as broadness across the back.  This is a great prop to try if you feel pinching in the lower back.

The blanket is a great tool to slide the chest forward of the arms.  Place a blanket behind your mat, and place your feet on the blanket.  Come up into UMS and slide your chest forward.

 Leann is long and lean, with graceful arms and legs.  I'm short and round, with most of my height in my torso.  While backbends are a little easier for me, the ground is much closer when I do UMS.  So here, I get a little height in the arms from a pair of blocks.  For the T-Rex club, this makes UMS so lovely.

But wait, there's more.  Want to make UMS, even more lovely?  Turn the blocks out about 45 degrees.  I feel this frees the shoulder in such a way that the chest just glides though.

Height under the hands can help everyone though, just look how much lift Leann has using a bench!

 If you really want to get your chest lifted, try placing your chest against a wall.  This post was really nice because I could have my hands on either side, but any wall will work.  The little dog is unimpressed though.

Thanks to Leann and her team!