This post is mining similar territory as yesterday’s post on the weight distribution in the outer or distal extremities. Students in yoga class tend to bear weight to the outside of the hands and feet in downward facing dog when we would hope to do the opposite.
The inner half of the foot connects to the tibia which is the larger weight-bearing bone of the lower leg. In the arm the arrangement is slightly different as the bones of the forearm are more mobile than the bones of the shin. They can cross each other as the palm flips back and forth. Both of the bones of the forearm, the radius and the ulna, take part in weight-bearing though we want to put more emphasis on the inner hand in downward facing dog.
The Hands and Feet in Downward Facing Dog
We want to use the whole foot in downward facing dog but the support offered by the bones of the inner hand and inner foot distributes energy more successfully through the skeleton. When we allow ourselves to roll slightly to the outside of the hand and foot there is a dissipation of energy as we lose our connection to the core. It is as if energy is literally spilling out.
When you press down through the mound of the big toe side of the foot the inner thigh should activate pulling you into your core. Weight rolling to the outside of the foot activates an outer thigh that should be rotating internally but can’t because of interference down at the base of the pose. And as I wrote yesterday the inner foot should translate into a toning of the psoas major into the back plane of the body at the upper thigh.
The inner hand functions in much the same way helping the body draw energetically into the core. If I had to pick a muscle to correspond to the psoas in this example I’ll make a silly leap and say that the inner hand connects to the subclavius muscle, a small muscle between the clavicle and the first rib that helps to connect the collar bone to the sternum or breast bone. Grounding through the inner hand tones the inner head of the biceps brachi which helps the subclavius do its thing. That might be a reach but I like it. It is all about getting us to draw energetically towards the core of the body.
The name of the game is to have tone in the surface core muscles so that our deep core functions efficiently. Working through the inner extremities to find the core is a good image to focus on in downward facing dog.