Downward-facing dog, or adho mukha svanasana as it’s called in Sanskrit, just might be the most famous yoga pose of all.
It’s very important to keep the hips in a neutral position while performing this sequence. There should be a continuos flow to keep the engagement of the hips on the lower portion of the trunk. The arms should be holding on to the parallel bars of the trapeze to help compensate the body weight and the resistance coming on to the upper trunk from springs and body motion. This exercise is wonderful to do and very exhausting too!
This is an advance version of frontal splits. I find this combination challenging and quite unique. Coordination, balance and extension are key to this exercise. I work on a medium tension spring not to overdue my hip flexors. There is lots of inner thigh stretch in this movement. Adding up arms and rotation of the trunk enhances the challenge of the combination but it makes it also more fun!
The last sequence on this video is a powerful hamstring stretch.
An arabesque panche (definition): in which the raised leg is at an angle much greater than 90 degrees. The body bends forward to counterbalance the back leg. This ballet pose requires tremendous balance as well as flexibility.
When putting these two exercises together on the reformer focus is on coordination, balance and strength. At the top of the extension on the arabesque panche I bend my knee to enhance the stretch on the hamstring of the supporting leg as well as to increase the flexibility on the hip flexor of the opposite leg.
We increase the rotation of the shoulders by stretching with the push through bar. We focus our work on lower back muscles , spinal flexion, hamstring stretch and we relax the trapeze muscles. We finish up with two nice gentle thai massage stretches to enhance the feeling of opening on these areas described above.
Thai massage stretches on the trapeze are an adaptation of the traditional Thai massage technique performed on a mat. I find that these modifications help my clients to leave the session with a feeling of elasticity, lightness, freedom and energy.
A great way to release tension on the hip flexors while engaging the abdominal wall is to work on the reformer performing leg circles. I usually start leg circles on a green spring. ( medium tension) and let my legs loose up while circling around while placing my hands on the hip flexors.
As I press gently down my thumbs onto the hips I create more ‘room’ between the head of the femur bone and the hip sockets. The stirring motion of the circles facilitates this task.
Then I am ready to add up an extra spring on the reformer and with my hips warmed up and loose I can work on strength while focusing on my hamstrings, inner thighs and lower abdominal. I like to think that legs start form the torso so I can concentrate on this feeling of control and energy flow while performing leg circles.