In this asana modification we will add a new element into child’s pose by coming off the knees. This is an especially effective asana for those of you who have very tight shoulders and extremely tight hamstrings (back of the legs). I find in many of my students that due to those two commonly tight areas they do a downward dog straining their shoulders and lower back to avoid the tightness in the hamstring. As a matter of fact I recommend doing a few of this particular modification in every practice as a way of releasing the hips and shoulders in preparation for downward dog no matter who you are.
In addition you can slowly straighten one leg and then the other as a way of relieving the hamstring slowly and gently. Begin from the active child’s pose position shown in the first picture. Keeping the arms active and in a sense pushing away from the hands curl your toes under (this in itself is an excellent modification for those of you who wear shoes all the time). With the toes curled under, find your breath and on an inhale begin to push into your arms and feet and raise your knees off the floor, by only a few inches initially. You want to feel into the groins (front of the hip) and allow this area to slide into the body by focusing on the sensation that you are scooping your pubic bone (front body) back toward your tailbone. This will emphasize a very important element of all forward bends (which downward dog partly is) which is to let the pelvic floor tip forward independent of the spine. Think of it like the dial on you car seat – and as you turn this dial forward you let the upper portion of your body move toward the lower body at this hinge – NOT by stretching out the muscles out in the lower spine. Doing it this way will give you the awareness of how far you are able to go toward downward dog intelligently without compromising the length of you spine. Notice the length and angle of my back did not change in any of the three poses.