DownDog Splits with Core Shakti Kicks
Sanskrit: Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana
sahita Antaraka oGkArA Padaksepa
Photos of Maggie Anderson taken by Maggie Anderson
Downdog Splits with Core Shakti Kicks is another of my favorite poses to practice, as well as teach in my classes. In Downdog Splits we get an awesome hamstring stretch and all along the entire leg. It feels good to open up that hip flexor as well. It’s one of my *yummy* poses. You know those poses that make you say “ahhhh”. This is one of the many! 🙂 Downdog splits pose is great for aligning the spine, elongating the back, legs and arms, as well as relieve stress, calm the brain, improve digestion and more. This pose can really open up the chest and heart as well.
Practicing Core Shakti Kicks from here is another amazing flow that allows you to tap into your breath awareness, as well as work on your core. Our core is our foundation for all movement, so it’s helpful to keep it healthy and keep it strong. Core Shakti Kicks strengthens and tones your abdominals, waist and oblique’s (most especially when you take your knee over to either elbow rather than the center line). This Vinyasa variation is also a part of the Core Sun Salutation sequence.
Directions on how to come into the pose:
Begin in Child’s pose (knees on ground, slide hips back to meet heels and rest head on mat). Then slowly rise up, keep hands on mat slightly forward from shoulders and knees under hips. Begin to lift your knees off the mat and straighten the legs making an inverted V position with your body (DownDog). Push up up up through the tailbone. Allow your heels to reach for the mat, even if only as the intention of reaching towards the mat. No air bubbles in those hands, fingers wide and hands shoulder width apart. Feet are hip distance. Shoulders are wide and back and away from the ears. Press the chest down as if reaching for your thighs, open the heart. Lift high from the tailbone to the sky. Elongate the spine and feel the stretch. Breathe deeply. Allow your head to hang loose and drink your breath.
Then lift the right leg up towards the sky. This can be hip level or higher. If you cannot straighten the leg, that’s okay. It’s all about your flexibility. In time your leg will get straighter and straighter and higher. Honor the wisdom of your body and go to your level today. Elongate your leg, while maintaining this three-legged dog. Enjoy this stretch.
Next, inhale while in splits. Exhale, three Core Shakti kicks to the center. Bend right knee in towards your belly, as you round up your spine, perhaps lifting the knee further into your belly and having the intention of the navel coming in towards the spine. As you do this simultaneously you may further come up onto the ball of your left foot and more weight shifts into the toes. Inhale right leg back up into splits, exhale knee in. Finishing 3-5 Core Shakti Kicks with leg lifted back into Splits. The second Core Shakti Kick option is to take your right knee in, then under your body and over towards the left elbow for a twist. 3-5 repetitions and meeting back up into splits. The third Core Shakti Kick option is to bring your knee over towards the outside right elbow, engaging more deeply the waist and oblique’s. 3-5 repetitions.
Lower the leg back into Downdog. Go to the other side and lift into Downdog splits to your level. Each side may react differently to flexibility and level. In time, this may balance out as you practice.
Then to come out, drop the leg down into your DownDog. From there, perhaps you can drop your knees down onto the mat and slide your hips back to your heels, coming back into Child’s pose. Rest here. Slide your hands up to your knees sitting up and roll out your wrists. This variation works a lot in the wrists, so it’s helpful to loosen them up and release the tension.
Another modification variation of this pose is to do your Core Shakti Kicks from Table pose. Table pose is simply, lowering your knees to the mat from Downdog, aligning wrists under shoulders and knees under hips to begin. Spine is nice and elongated. Or you may choose to modify one step further and take your forearms down to that mat (particularly if you have wrist issues). Always options and progress at your own pace. 🙂 From here you can flow into your Core Shakti Kicks as described above.
When not to do this pose or to modify/Contraindications:
Be leery of practicing this pose if you have wrist issues or carpal tunnel syndrome or symptom of Diarrhea. And it’s not recommended to do this pose if you are in your late-term of pregnancy. If you have high blood pressure or a headache, try to modify this pose by supporting your head on a bolster or block, ears level between the arms.
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