Great additional comments, SHIRLZ. We all have different bodies and they are different on different days. One of the mantras I say when I teach and to myself when I practice is: Don't try to get you body into the asana, let the asana come into your body. It's amazing how I soften when I remind myself of that.
If you look around a roomful of yogis doing down dog, you are not likely to see many poses that look like the Yoga Journal covers. We all have different bodies, different constitutions, and we each need to find our own approach to practice. Yoga injuries may come from trying to force the body into a pose it's not strong enough or flexible enough to do. Perhaps your teacher sees students in your class who do not yet have the shoulder strength/flexibility for a "full" dog pose. Look around the room when everyone is lifting their arms up to the ceiling -- if they can't fully extend their arms vertically when they are standing (or sitting) then they could cause damage trying for a full extension with the added stress of weight-bearing. Trust your teacher -- and if you find you don't quite, then try some other classes and other teachers in your area -- you'll either find a better one, or discover that your current teacher is better than you thought.
I agree with D4...never heard anyone say to put more weight into your arms. That would be very stressful on your wrists. Down dog should never be painful and if you someone is injured during that pose, they were doing something wrong. Is there another class you can go to with a different instructor so you could get a "second opinion" on the pose? You should do it whatever way feels best in your body.
I have never heard of an instructor suggesting the weight be more in the arms. The goal is to have down dog be a resting pose which it will not be if your weight is in your arms. However, many people have gotten yoga butt (not a good thing) from over straightening in down dog. It is usually considered better to bend your knees and shift your hips back towards the wall behind you to take pressure off the front of the body. Rather than sending your bottom up towards the ceiling soften your sit bones down towards your heels. There is also absolutely no need for the heels to touch the floor. If you have some sort of wrist injury dolphin would be a better choice (on your forearms) If that is not possible childs pose is a wonderful pose to still work the length of the spine without injuring the front of the body. Oh and if you are wondering I'm a 500 hour certified yoga instructor.
Whenever you see someone in down dog in a photo, this is always with a straight line for the legs piked into another straight line for the arms/shoulders. My current instructor does not agree that this is the best position for down dog siting that she knows folks who have had injuries due to this. She has us shift our weight more over our arms so the resulting alignment does not look like a "V" ( or a dog for that matter)
Could you comment on how this is done in your classes or anyone you know who has sustained an injury?
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