I recently watched Fiji’s video on Vinyasa for lower back care: Alignment.
She shows upward dog with the block between the thighs and states that the idea is trying to lift the block up away from the floor, creating a gentle angle to the back.
I just want to clarify this. There are few different yoga teachers I refer to, but whenever there is a discrepancy, I turn to Fiji’s advice. In another youtube video I was watching, there was an instructor who was doing sphynx, then cobra and then moved in to downward dog, but said to ‘perform your deepes/fullest expression of upward dog’. So from this, I sort of thought that a perfect upward dog has the most back extension/backward flexion that you can do. But if I understand correctly, this is NOT what Fiji was saying, and that upward dog should be a gentle angle of your spine, with the lower back as stable as possible using the lower abs and that lift of the legs away from the floor?
It would be more accurate to say ‘perform your deepest/fullest expression of upward dog while maintaining the stability of the core’. You ultimately want to avoid creating a weak, pivot point in your spine, which can be the result of moving into your full expression without stability. Core activation encourages the spine to move into a gentle C-curve (as much as possible), and allows you to feel lifted and lengthened throughout the back.
Fiji’s reference to squeezing and lifting the block brings your attention to where the anchor point is in your body when you’re doing cobra or upward dog - your toe nails. To stabilize from the toe nails to the top of the head the thighs need to hug in and lift and the core needs to keep the pelvis from tipping forward.
There is so much involved in the alignment and muscle activation in upward facing dog, this requires a longer workshop. Hey, perhaps we’ll do one!
Thanks so much! And something just clicked for me today - I was doing Fiji’s advanced back bendind from the base and she said - move your legs up and your hips down…I’ve watched that video many times but only heard that for the first time today and now feel like I understand the downward dog and how to engage the core while doing it.
That’s great. I love having epiphanies like that!