Now that classes are back in the halls and studios classes will begin to introduce some new pose variations such as working with the wall in Down Dog and more forearm work including Dolphin and its variations.
These poses are also all inversions and they provide lots of benefits for the physical body, for example, lowering of blood pressure; as well as, being fun and providing a sense of achievement. They are often perceived as more advanced poses as they require more upper body strength.
Lots of people find these poses a little bit of a struggle, mainly due to tightness and lack of strength in the shoulders, arms pits and pectoral muscles. If you would like to improve your upper body strength and flexibility then have a go at the mini practice below.
Here are two poses to work through - I strongly recommend starting with Turbo Puppy and then moving into Turbo Dog as and when you feel Turbo Puppy is getting easier!
To come into Turbo Puppy, come onto your knees and place your hands on the mat in front of you. Spread the fingers really wide and hold onto the mat, start with your elbows wide (as above). Then as you take a big breath into upper back, draw your elbows down towards the mat and draw them towards the centre line. Elbows hover about 2 inches from the mat. (As below)
Big breath in and lifting up through upper back will wrap your shoulders around the front of your ribs and activate all the muscles around the arm pits, the pectorals and the upper back.
Keep breathing and squeezing the elbows towards each other. This looks very easy but is actually really hard work! Practice this for 5 breaths at least twice.
To go up a level, as you take another breath in just lift your knees off the ground from Turbo Puppy moving into Turbo Dog (as below).
Don't worry about straightening your legs, the purpose of this pose is not to lengthen the hamstrings but to build strength in upper body. Once you become proficient in the pose, you can also move into it directly from Down Dog by bending the elbows and wrapping the shoulders. To start off it is much easier coming from the floor in Turbo Puppy and really getting a feel for the shoulder wrap and lift through upper back.
As the muscle tone improves poses like Dolphin, including the options like leg lifts as well as Flash Prep will become much easier. This will also assist stability when working with the wall, in poses such as Down Dog against the wall.