One Pose—Three Ways
"Many of the people I teach have physical or health issues that may preclude them from doing the full expression of a yoga pose," commented Patty Schneider, who instructs beginner, gentle, chair and restorative yoga. Karma is also part of her regular practice. She volunteers through Liberation Prison Yoga to teach inmates of the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women. She also volunteers with Gilda’s Club Westchester to offer yoga to people living with cancer. Here is her version of Downward-Facting Dog:
YogaCity NYC: What pose did you choose and why do you like it?
Patty Schneider: Downward-Facing Dog is such a basic pose, part of just about every yoga class. For this reason, people assume it is simple and easy to do. Not so! So much is going on in Down Dog that you can do it for years and still not reach its full expression. It can be very challenging for beginners, and also those with physical issues, including wrist, shoulder, or back pain. However, it gives a lot of release to muscles all over the body, and also teaches basic muscular engagement, as does Mountain Pose. That is why I like to include an accessible version of it in my classes.
YCNYC: Describe the anatomy of the first pose and the body parts engaged.
PS: In this variation, Puppy Dog, the knees are on the mat, and the hips are aligned over the knees. The hands walk forward as far as possible, without causing the hips to pull out of alignment. As in regular Down Dog, the palms are pressed firmly into the mat and the fingers are spread wide. The inner arms draw towards each other, and the shoulders are externally rotated. Press the shins and tops of the feet into the mat, and draw the hip points towards the bottom rib to engage the core muscles and keep the belly from sagging. It is not necessary to support the forehead on a block, but it can be a helpful prop for
students with stiff shoulders or neck issues.
YCNYC: What body parts are engaged in the second pose?