Whoops, got a little side-tracked this week helping the husb. put together his tenure package. By Monday nite he was pretty fried and needed some help organizing about a million student evaluations and making everything look pretty. Those of you who are academics, or love an academic, know how lively things have been around our house. Now the waiting begins...
So, I've been hearing about the Dog, and thinking about my own Dogs. I've got some modifications for you to try that I often do, anyway, because it shifts things around in the pose and keeps it interesting:
Hands around a block at the wall-try placing a block between the thumbs and index fingers (the fingers will make an "L" around the bottom and side edge) and press the front edge of the block at the wall. Measure out your dog from Child's Pose, so your arms are stretched straight out from the shoulders before you come up. Lift up into Dog, letting the pressure of the hands against the block help stabilize the arms. Straighten the arms and torso first, keeping the knees soft and then open the backs of the legs as you straighten them.
Belt around the upper arms-make a loop with your belt and tighten it, so that it is about the width of your shoulders. Then slip this loop around the arms and above the elbows. When you come into Dog this also stabilizes the arms, by helping keep them straight. It is good for people with weaker arms. You have to fuss around with the placement, tho, because it can get in the way of your head.
Heels to the wall-This is a good shoulder opener, but is also nice for students whose heels don't reach the floor. Position yourself against the wall, so that as you come up the heels rest against the wall about 3 inches off the floor. This will create greater rotation in the shoulders, and give you more support in your legs. If the rotation is too much, walk the hands forwards to open up the "V" of the body, and lower the heels slightly.
Soften knees-I suggest this to students all the time, because if they have tight shoulders they tend to do a modified Plank, rather than Dog, making the pose much more difficult for the arms. As you come up, keep the knees bent until the upper body is in a straight line, then start unbending the knees (never think about forcing the heels down...better to visualize the legs lengthening). If the head starts to pop up between the arms, bend the knees again. I think it is better to keep the upper body aligned in this pose, rather than fixate on whether your feet are flat on the floor.
Whadaya think? Does any of this help? Give you ideas?
P.S. I got a massage on Monday (trading classes with a student...how excellent is that?!?), and was told that the tightness in my left shoulder extends diagonally across my back to the right hip. Totally logical, since I thrust the left hip out to support the baby, thus fouling up my alignment completely. That would explain why a long-held, twisting standing pose was not all that enjoyable...should we do Vrksasana (Tree Pose) next?