Downward Dog Days in NYC: Doing the Groundhog Salutation

Last Tuesday there were around 15 -18 people in my 6pm Chelsea Rec Center class - mostly newbies to yoga. One game young guy, an 80 year young woman, and the rest in their 20-40's.


So much for my inital idea of a Yoga for Boomers class - with a timeslot of 6pm, this is now simply called, Easy Yoga by the Galfromdownunder. It's listed as part of the ShapeUpNYC initiative - so it's free to all participants, regardless of whether they are members of the Rec Center.

One thing about being a volunteer teacher:  I get to teach whatever I want.

As a warmup for this group, I've developed what I call a Groundhog Salutation.

It's basically a Sun Salutation but you never get up on your feet to worship the sun, you say down at woodchuck (ferret or Aussies) level.  It's a good limber up for the back before you totter to your feet.

The drill:

Inhale - hands and knees post cat/cow.

Exhale - Down dog.

Inhale - drop knees on the way to ...

Exhale - Childs Pose

Inhale - come forward to plank

Exhale - knees, chest, chin

Inhale - raise chest, baby cobra.

Exhale - lower chest

Inhale - Walk hands and body all the way back to ...

Exhale - child's pose.

Inhale - up on knees, hands behind hips

Exhale - arch back, head tipped back (kneeling backbend)

Inhale - come forward

Exhale - child's post

Inhale  - hands and knees to ...

Exhale - Down dog

It's a great way to limber up the back, shoulders, legs, remembering to double the mat over because of the additional activity involving the knees.

Around 20 reps gets people warmed up and slightly breathless!

Another little exercise, inspired by an article in the current issue of Yoga Journal, was to have everyone with feet splayed against the wall to practice some "gravitationally assisted" hip openings. Flex feet, pushing through heels, pressing calves against the wall, then relax. Note hips magically open a leeetle bit wider, heels inch down the wall ... I had to get every second person to do it in turns, due to limited wall space.

This should be done at home for 5-10mins. In this class it became a kind of "active Savasana".

Once at the wall, it made perfect sense to gently swing feet left, then right, doing twists for the sciatic nerve, using the wall as a comforting "landing pad". SO many people complain of sciatica. Too much slouching in swivel chairs and sofas, methinks.

"That was great! Is this class going to continue?" a bunch exclaimed at the end, including the 1 game guy and the 80 year young woman.

Earlier in the day I did a similar routine for my group at the Hudson Guild. Last week I actually had a senior guy come along, For the most part the men just glare - my challenge is to have them give it a try. We women don't want to be saddle with an inflexible, cantankerous old bloke when we're 64, 74, 84, do we now?

Gal on yoga


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