In the Classical Hatha yoga system, there is a vinyasa (a movement with the breath) from back bends on the ground into a seated position. Here I show how along with my student how to begin from cobra (bhujangasana) to downward dog (adho mukha svanasana) to sitting (vajrasana). This movement is broken down so that anyone can learn to come into a seated position with the breath.
The key points are the correct breathing in cobra, which begins with an exhalation and the transition to downward dog. When this movement is made the legs should remain engaged and the hands (hasta) support the lift upward.
A common mistake is for lift from cobra by using the shoulders. By keeping the chest open and grounding the hands properly this can be avoided with a smooth transition made into the posture. In downward dog a lot of times the low back gets arched, but remembering to draw the lower belly inward helps to lengthen the back. As well, pressure is exerted to the feet gradually bringing them flat onto the ground.
It is important to note in AtmaVikasa the downward dog posture is long and usually the feet are together. A modified version is to open the feet and work on lengthening through the legs, the ankles and into the feet. As well, the upper thighs are engaged to lift up the knees. Remembering all these points happens more naturally as you practice and continue to breathe.
Becoming more mindful of the breath helps to align the body and to go inside. Both cobra and downward dog are complimentary postures as the former stretches and opens the chest and back while the latter counter balances the movement and gives greater lengthening along the spinal column.
Copyright The Yoga Way ~ Heather, 2012