down, dog!

I got called in to substitute teach an advanced yoga class on Saturday.  This was a bit last minute-y (the regular teacher had food poisoning), so I didn’t have a whole lot of time to prepare a lesson plan, and I walked in thinking to myself, “Well, we’ll work on down dog for a bit and see where it goes from there.”

I started by talking about down dog.  Obviously, it’s a forward bend, but there’s also a backbend component in the alignment of the shoulders and the lumbar spine.  It’s also a hand balance.  It’s also an inversion, because the head is lower than the heart.  It’s also a hip opener.  So there’s really quite a lot going on, though there’s a tendency for students to take the pose a bit for granted because we do it so often.

So here was my sequence; I’m relatively pleased with it, though I think if I teach it again I might make some changes.

  1. Down dog.  Assess everyone’s dog, see who needs work on what.  Bend knees deeply, find length in the spine and lumbar curve; keeping the lumbar curve, work on straightening the legs.  Repeat.
  2. Down dog with head on block; encourage drawing the shoulders on to the back, heart melting towards the floor.
  3. Down dog with hands to the edge where the floor meets the wall, thumbs in, fingers out, grounding through the thumb mounds – upper arms outer spiral, fore arms inner spiral.
  4. Take unsupported down dog again; find the same action in the shoulders and arms.
  5. Handstand prep – basically, down dog rotated 45 degrees.  Work on strength in arms (arm balance).
  6. Down dog.
  7. Supta padangusthasana with belt to the sole of the foot of the raised leg, other foot pressing into the wall.  Raised leg to 90 degrees.  Work on opening hamstrings, grounding both thighs into their hip sockets.  (Forward bend).
  8. Down dog – find same action in hips/thighs and hamstrings.
  9. Pigeon prep/pigeon.  Focus on alignment of thighs/hips.  (Hip opener).
  10. Agni stambhasana, with hands in anajali mudra behind the back to prevent the spine from rounding.  (Hip opener).
  11. Down dog – find same action in the hips/pelvis.
  12. Sirsasana.  (Inversion).  Make dumb joke about Barbie feet (pointed with toes flexed) versus G. I. Joe feet (flexed).  Jonji would be proud.
  13. Down dog.
  14. Supta baddha konasana.
  15. Savasana.

One Response

  1. I will have to read this carefully and try it out… I do take it for granted…

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