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Downward-Facing Dog to Upward Bow

Earlier this year while watching Jazz, filmmaker Ken Burns's documentary series, I was struck by a comment from Chicago jazz great Eddie Condon. A leader in the desegregation of jazz, Condon observed that when white musicians first came on the scene they were eager to play jazz but "stiff with education." I was reminded that as we in the West embrace the ancient tradition of yoga, we need to leave room for the earthy elements that keep a yoga practice as playful as it is serious.  continued »

OneAdho Mukha Svanasana
In Child¹s Pose, curl your toes under and extend your arms forward. Inhale and lift your hips back and up to raise your knees off the floor. Exhale, extending back and up with your hips to lengthen your spine. Refine this movement until your legs are as straight as possible. Continue to press your hands down, keeping your head between your arms rather than dropping it toward the floor.
TwoCreating the Twist
In Adho Mukha Svanasana, raise your right leg, bend the knee, and open your right hip toward the ceiling. Shift your weight to your left hand, come onto your right fingertips, and let your right leg hang behind you to create a spinal rotation. Breathe steadily and keep reaffirming the length from your hands to your hips to insure smooth shoulder rotation. Deepen the twist, gradually bringing your right foot as close to the floor as possible.
ThreeFlipping the Leg
From Exercise 2, twist until you can bring your right foot to the floor. Let your right hand lift and bring the arm next to your head. Place your feet parallel and slightly wider apart than your hips. Lift your hips and pull them over the feet as you rotate your upper body and place your right hand on the floor, fingers facing your feet. Turn your left hand to complete the backbend. If you can¹t bring the right arm to the floor, hold the twist for several breaths, then reverse out of it back to Downward Dog, as described in Exercise 5.
FourUrdhva Dhanurasana
(Upward Bow Pose)

Balancing the weight evenly between your hands and feet, breathe steadily, making sure you complete each exhalation. Draw your inner groins into your hips, gently lift your tailbone, and create length in the backs of your calves. Move your inner arms toward your legs and roll your top shoulder blades toward your hips as you bring your shoulders as close to directly over your wrists as possible. Let your head hang freely. Stay in the pose for several breaths, becoming comfortable and steady.
FiveFlipping Back to Downward Dog
To come back to Adho Mukha Svanasana, turn your left hand toward your right. Keep your fleet planted and press your left hand firmly into the floor as you rotate your chest strongly to the left and pull the right hand from the floor. Then pivot your left foot to face your hands and exhale to gently rotate the rest of your body back to Downward Dog. Repeat the whole sequence on the other side.
Downward-Facing Dog to Upward Bow

» Demonstrations

» Intro

» Engaging the Shoulders

» Extending the Spine

» Twisting the Torso

• Tones Spine
• Massages and strengthens abdominal organs
• Makes shoulders more flexible
• Strengthens arms and legs Builds endurance Contraindications

• Tendency to dislocate shoulders Chronic shoulder injuries
• Pregnancy
• Unmanaged high or low blood pressure
• Herniated lumbar discs
• Positional vertigo


© 2001 Barbara Benagh
Reprinted from Yoga Journal