Practise any Vinyasa Flow class and before too long you’ll find yourself being asked to step one foot forward between your hands. This doesn’t come easily for everyone though and takes some practise. So here are a couple of extra tips for working on this transition from Downward Dog.
1. Set your base
First make sure you are comfortable in your Downward Facing Dog Pose. Press firmly through your hands, especially the base of your index finger and your finger tips, this will help to protect your wrists. Slide the shoulder blades down along the back and spread them wide away from each other. Firm the upper arms in. Inhale, look forward to where your foot wants to go.
2. Create extra space
Lift up the space between the shoulder blades to give your leg extra room to move. Inhale and push through the hands to lengthen your arms and round your upper back. Practise this movement first on all fours by doing Cat stretches and then in Downward Dog.
3. Shift your centre of gravity
Think about using your whole body rather than just stepping your leg. You can do this by shifting your center of gravity – around your lower belly – forward. So from Downward Dog you round your back and at the same time draw your lower belly in and up. This creates a forward motion to the front of the mat.
4. Use your core
Use your core strength to help lift your knee. You can work on this by practising Core Planks. From Downward Dog inhale and raise your right leg, pushing back with the ball of the foot. Exhale, bend your left knee and elbows slightly. On the same exhale come on to the ball of your left foot – this will also give you extra height – round your back, draw your navel in towards the spine and bring your knee up close to your chest. Straighten your arms and legs on the end of the movement. Inhale and extend the right leg back again. Repeat this five times before stepping the foot forward.
5. Work with Ujjayi
Ujjayi breath (Triumphant or Victorious breath) gives the body extra strength and stability. Ujjayi is done by slightly contracting the back of the throat on both the inhale and exhale. It creates a whispering sound like the wind through the trees or the wind on the ocean. Watch my tutorial on Ujjayi Pranayama (for members).
Give your foot a helping hand
Even with these tips it still could be that your right foot lands somewhere halfway along the mat rather than between your hands at the front. If this is the case, the easiest way to bring your foot forward is to literally lift it into place.
Take hold of the back of the right ankle with your right hand, press your weight through your left hand, pick up the right foot and lift it forward.
If this feels unstable, you can also bring your left knee down first and then lift your right foot forward.
Practise all these steps in my video tutorial for EkhartYoga members
All levels, Vinyasa Flow, 10 minutes