How To Jump (Not Step) Forward From Downward Dog
I've never really liked the saying, "practice makes perfect."
If we practice something — especially a posture in yoga — in the incorrect or misaligned way, it will never be "perfect," no matter how much you practice. Plus, your body could sustain an injury, too.
However, if we can find ways to support proper alignment when we practice — like using props or incorporating modifications —eventually we might be able to cultivate the awareness of what a properly aligned pose can feel like. Finding new ways to do the same old thing can be quite liberating.
Let's take Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), for instance. This is one of the most regularly practiced poses in popularized yoga today. For many yogis however, this pose can create a fair amount of wrist pain and other discomfort. Plus, when yogis try to transition from the back of the mat to the front by jumping, they're often met with a greater challenge. There simply isn't enough space in between the shoulders and awareness of core strength.
So here's a useful tip:
When you place a block under each hand for Downward Dog, you create space in the upper body — especially in the shoulders and neck. This allows you to create length in your spine and connect to the strength of your legs.
Then when it comes time to hop toward the front of the mat, keep your hands on the blocks. As you inhale, come up high onto your toes to lengthen in the spine, and to lift your hips higher than your shoulders. Gaze forward past your hands.
On your exhale, bend your knees to activate the strength in your legs while you engage your core, keeping your gaze forward.
At the bottom of the exhale, look past the front of your mat as you press evenly into both hands and float forward — thinking of lifting your hips over your shoulders.
On an inhale, lengthen your spine half way up. Exhale and forward fold. Inhale to come all the way to stand, exhaling the hands to your heart center.
Try this a few times moving with fluidity, focus and patience. Remember, practice makes permanent — not perfect. Here's a quick video I put together to help guide you:
Photo courtesy of Fluid Frame Photography