Don't do this!
Please don't do this at home!
The photo here is from a wildly popular wellness centre with a strong web presence and great content. However, this photo of downward dog is an exception and 'got my goat,' so to speak. To me it underscores the importance of trusting our inner teacher and not just trying to recreate what we are told or shown to be the thing to do.
Whether we are at a yoga class, reading a yoga magazine, or sifting through our inbox we are inundated with cues and advice of what is good for our body. But is it good for your specific body?
How do we know? We begin to listen inwardly. We get quiet and learn our patterns of tension, compensation and pure movement. We begin to recognise which postures are feeding our compensations along with our tightness and aches, and which are feeding stability, strength and well-being.
Can you see the rounding of the back in this photo? I believe she is honouring the form more than the function of the pose. She is feeding her tendency to round at the mid and lower back. This is likely a compensation for what is not happening in her pelvis' ability to hinge forward. Her elbows are pointing out and heels in, speaking volumes about shoulder mobility that is not developed enough to be in this posture without strain, and alignment through the feet that is telling me what is not happening in the hips and back line of her body.
In person or in a class, when I see this, it is good news for both of us! It means the client and I can work together for them to FEEL what is happening. Understanding the muscles groups, technical terms or Sanskrit names is not important, feeling is.
Then, their downward dog (or another movement that will prepare them for downward dogs of the future) can be a whole new experience, moving them toward ease and a pain-free body, rather than away from it.
When I see this in an image that is meant to inspire others, it is frustrating for me. So, I feel into the frustration, the tightness in my jaw... allow it to be. Then things soften, and I realise this is precisely why I do what I do. It is not that the advice out there is wrong and I am right. (If I ever feel the need to be "right", then I have lost my willingness to be open) It is that we have our own inner wisdom that is the best filter we can ever have. We need to trust, feel and be curious as we allow ourselves to be informed and led in line with our truth.
My advice is no exception to any other advice out there... don't take my word for it. Feel into it, Try it and feel again. Then, let me know if you have any questions. I'll give you something to explore, but don't take my word for that either...feel into it, try it and feel again. And on and on, like the song that never ends, my friends.