Terre Pruitt's Blog

In the realm of health, wellness, fitness, and the like, or whatever inspires me.

  • I teach Nia, yoga and stretch! SIX group classes a week!

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    Yoga: Tues at 10:30 am and Thurs at 6:00 pm

    Stretch: Thurs at 10:15 am

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Posts Tagged ‘Downward-Facing Dog’

More On Downward Facing Dog

Posted by terrepruitt on July 1, 2014

I once briefly wrote about the Downward Facing Dog yoga pose in my post Down Dog. This is considered a resting pose. For many; those starting out or those wanting a gentle type of workout, it is not extremely restful. There are many muscles that are being used so it is a very active pose. This pose could be qualified as a “push exercise” or using the muscles that are used for pushing. Muscles on the back of the body are considered the “push muscles”. There are many benefits to this pose.

The lower body gets the biggest stretch. If you are able to straighten your legs and place your heels on the ground the back of your legs get the stretch. The hamstrings get a good stretch along with the calves. If your heels are up there is still a nice stretch going on. With many people working in office chairs and having the posture of bent legs, tight hamstrings is a very common situation. So having heels up and bent knees is a widely used modification.

No matter how your legs are (straight or bent) your arms are holding you up. This pose does require your arms to do some work. It is considered an arm supported pose. In conjunction with latissimus dorsi, the muscles by the ribs, and your deltoids the triceps are working. So for some their arms might feel fatigued. So even though this pose is allowing for a very big stretch in the back of the legs there are muscles working on the top half of the body.

Even though the focus is in pressing the tailbone to the sky we don’t ignore the front. The front of the legs get a bit of attention, as we are lifting the knee caps.  We also have a sense of our spine lengthening.

In addition to increasing flexibility in your legs, hips, and ankles. And strengthening arms and wrist, this pose relieves depression and helps calm the mind. Additional benefits include:
-Energizing the body
-Increasing circulation
-Improving digestion
-Relieving headache, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue
And it can be therapeutic for high blood pressure, asthma, flat feet, sciatica, sinusitis

I have learned to like this pose a bit more. I was reminded of what I tell my students and what we practice in Nia. Find the Joy in the movement, if you cannot tweak it until you do. I believe a portion of my dislike of this pose back when I first wrote about it, was that I was forcing it.  I was doing it in away that did not feel good for my back. Once I stopped the complete loose action of my spine, the pose became more comfortable. As it became easier there was room to move into the pose better and relax into it.

So, like many things it is good to do it at your level. As you improve it can be done better. The benefits can be received throughout the practice. It is a practice.

How is your Downward Facing Dog?

Posted in Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Once You Go To A Chiropractor You Always Have To Go

Posted by terrepruitt on March 17, 2012

When I was younger I remember many people saying that “once you go to a chiropractor you always have to go”. Maybe you have heard that. I still hear people say that. Back when I was young I don’t think a lot of thought was given to that statement. I know I didn’t think about it much, I just had heard it so often I believed it was true. At one point in my life back then I considered myself to “have a bad back”. Being in so much pain once I found myself at a chiropractor. This was all a very long time ago so I don’t remember all the details. I guess they did SOMETHING to make me feel better because I left and must have felt ok. But before I left he prescribed something outrageous like I would need to visit him three or four times a week in order to take care of it. Again, fuzzy on the details, but I know I never went back to that guy. I do remember having medical insurance at the time that would pay for a portion of my visits if I visited a doctor on their list. So, I found one, I believe he was on the verge of retiring and was not interested in seeing people more than he really felt was necessary and he did not think I needed to be seen more than once a week. But I do remember that by the time my next appointment came around I was ready. I think my issue was, and still is, stress or tension.  I don’t have a “bad back”. I hold my stress in my upper back. Well, after I had seen a chiropractor I came to believe the saying “once you go to a chiropractor you always have to go” is true. It is because that once you go and you get relief then you always want to feel that good so you “have to go”. But now I also know that there are a lot of things we can do ourselves to either bring relief or make sure we don’t get in a state where we need it in the first place.

One of the things I was doing back then was holding the phone in the crook of my neck and shoulder when talking on the phone.  I worked in the mortgage business and like many businesses when you get a phone call you don’t stop working, you keep working because you are having to look at information while talking. After I had been to the doctor I decided I was not going to hold the phone like that any longer and every place I worked after that I got a headset. Ever since then I’ve had had headsets for my home phone, too.  That ONE thing alone brought HUGE changes in my back.  I never hold the phone in the crook of my neck and shoulder.

But occasionally I still allow the tension to rest in my back. I have been fortunate enough to have someone help me with my back when she is available, but she is not always available and so I try to work on it myself. As I said, I believe a lot of it is making sure we don’t allow our bodies to get into a state where it needs work, but that is not always possible, but there are still things we can do. If you have read a few of my posts you know I have a tendency to scrunch my shoulders up towards my ears. That is a major thing that causes my back to hurt, so I really work on keeping my shoulders down. Also, I work at sitting up straight, which is not easy for me because I like to sit on a leg folded under me.

Aside from plain ol’ not doing things that cause issues I have been doing some things that tend to help my back by keeping the muscles loose and the vertebrae lengthened and relaxed. Often the floorplay in Nia helps with keeping my back loose, but the Nia routine that I have been doing the past few weeks does not have that type of floorplay in it so I am doing other things.  My old friend the Downward Facing Dog is a great help for opening the back and releasing the spine. Doing the Downward Facing Dog at least a dozen times as part of a sequence is a great help in keeping my back loose.

Also the Pyramid Pose/Intense Stretch Pose (Parsvottanasana), which I mentioned in my Muscles Used In Nia During Yoga-like Sequence post. When stretching the crown of the head out and over it really does a great job of creating space in the spine. Since my discomfort seems to manifest in my upper back, moves or poses that have me hanging over do a fantastic job of opening my cervical and thoracic spine.

Another “hanging” pose that I feel does a nice job of relaxing my joints and muscles is the simple fold. Just folding over and letting the body hang. Either the ragdoll or the forward fold. Doing both types of hangs, with a relaxed back and a straight back, works to create the sensation that I want – space, space, space, and more space in my spine. The space in my spine helps to relax the muscles that hold the tension.

As I was doing some side bends today, I actually heard my back crack. On each side I heard it crack. While I am not a fan of hearing my body snap, crackle, and pop, I take my back making that noise as the vertebrae getting back into place. When I can move my bones back into place and not have someone else do it, that makes me happy. It is what I have come to think of as self-healing. One of the side bends I have been doing consist of bending to the side while holding my arms over my head with my hands clasps. The other is holding my wrist as I bend.

So I am excited that I am working on my back myself. I have to say that I have not had back pain, tension, or even discomfort in the last two weeks. Yay. I know that I am not the only one that holds stress and tension in the back. So I was hoping sharing some of the things I have been doing to give me relief might help you too.

Do you have issues with your back? Do you hold stress in your back? What do you do to bring yourself and your back relief from your discomfort?

Posted in Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Down Dog

Posted by terrepruitt on June 6, 2009

Even though the Adho Mukha Svanasana or in more familiar language, Downward-Facing Dog is often used as a resting pose or a transitional pose, you are working a lot of your body.  It is a great pose for working your legs, back, shoulders and arms.  More specifically your gastrocnemius (calves), hamstrings, retucs femoris (front of leg), gluteus maximus, latissimus dorsi, serratus anterior (muscles by the ribs), deltoids, and triceps.

As with a lot of yoga asanas the “working” is either a lengthening and stretching or a strengthening or both. This asana also helps strengthen the hands.

Recently I took a yoga class in Los Gatos and I am looking forward to going back because I realized something, I don’t like this pose that much.  But what I have come to accept in my exercise workouts and Nia practice, is that if I don’t like something it is usually because I am not doing it correctly or it is something in which I need to improve.  So the reason I am looking forward to my next class is because I hope to ask the instructor for a body check.  If not in my next class I will ask the instructor in Willow Glen. I want an instructor to assist me in making sure I am doing it correctly.  Then once I feel the correct way to do it, I will work on it.

So, as you can see I am taking this Down Dog thing seriously.  Just because it is thrown in as a way to get to the next move and sometimes treated like a rest, I still want to use it to help strengthen my back, shoulders, and arms.  I want to work at it to make sure I am getting the full benefit of the lengthening of my legs and arms, and the stretching of back.  Do you work your Downward-Facing Dog or just let it lie?

Posted in Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »