Hey there! Today is Friday and that means Yoga Workshop Fridays!! Don’t know what I am talking about, check out this post.
This series will be each Friday explaining how to do a particular pose leading up to a peak pose on the last Friday of the month. Throughout this series, I ask that you listen to your body to prevent injury and warm up for a pose when needed.
Disclaimer: Though I am a certified yoga instructor, please consult your doctor before you begin practice and note that everyone’s practice may look a bit different as you align the pose to your body.
Today’s pose is downdog split or 3 legged dog or in Sanskrit, Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana. Eka Pada means “one foot” so it translates to one foot downward facing dog. But enough of a language lesson and time to move onto this pose. This pose is a great transition point in a vinyasa flow. In a simple sun salutation, you would go from downdog to lunge, but I like to throw in a downdog split in the middle. Not only do you get the benefit of stretching through the backs of your legs, but it also allows you to shift more smoothly into a lunge when you step through. Basically you have to use your core a bit and lift your belly up and in, to make room for your foot to step forward. This can be hard for a beginner, but I promise, you will get better with practice.
Now I will describe downdog split below and also go into a hip opener, which is optional, and a bonus of downdog crunches, because you know you still want to work those abs even though summer is over, right?! OK maybe that is just me, but really it’s a fun variation on crunches. So let’s get to it.
How to do the pose:
For downdog split, simply begin in downward facing dog. On an inhale, lift your right leg up and back, keeping your hips LEVEL. If you start lifting your right leg and noticing that your right hip is lifting too, it’s time to lower the leg a bit until those hips are in line. Remember this is your practice and you are aligning the pose to YOUR body. Flex the toes down towards the ground. Make sure those fingers are spread wide and you are evenly pressing into both hands just like regular downdog.
After holding here for a couple breaths, you have the option to open the hip. This means bending the knee of the right (lifted) leg and moving the foot towards the left (opposite) butt cheek. Try to keep your shoulders square and continue to press evenly through both hands. As you breathe here, lift the belly button up and in, really engaging the core. After a few breaths, re-square the hips bringing the lifted leg back to center and straight. Exhale as you lower the leg down to the mat and now you are ready for the second side.
Make sure if you open the hip on one side, that you do the same on the other side.
Bonus: Downdog Crunches
A little bonus for some extra core work, downdog crunches!! From downdog split with square hips, inhale, then as you exhale bend the knee of the lifted leg and roll forward, as if you were coming to plank pose, and bring your knee to the opposite elbow. Inhale, as you push back and extend the leg back to downdog split, exhale roll halfway forward bringing knee to nose. Inhale extend the leg back and exhale bring the knee forward to the same elbow (ie right knee to right elbow), inhale press back to downdog split, extend the leg straight.
Now you can practice this with those 3 touches as one rep or you can just do knee to nose crunches.
I show the first two crunch variations below with knee to opposite elbow and knee to nose. After a few reps, not only will your core be feeling it, but your arms get a great workout holding you up. Again whatever you do on one side, repeat with the second leg and most importantly HAVE FUN.
- Stretches the hamstrings and hip flexors
- Works on your balance
- Strengthens the arms
- Strengthens the core with crunches!!
- Mid inversion that helps to quiet the mind
Share your pose on Instagram, tagging @bridgesthroughlife and hashtags #bridgesthroughlife #yogaworkshopFridays
I hope you enjoy this series. If you have any suggestions for what poses you would like me to break down, I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment or send me an email [email protected]
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