If I had to pick one action we take in most, if not all yoga classes that is filled with possible pitfalls, it’d have to be moving from High to Low Push Up. Why? Well, #1, it’s a weight bearing posture for the arms. This makes it a pretty challenging action.
Secondly, it’s a movement that we take with our palms facing the ground. Why does this matter? Well, it matters because when we have our hands facing down AND we’re weight bearing on the arms, we have to work pretty hard to avoid hunching and internally rotating through the shoulders.
Lastly, we’re fighting gravity in this movement. We have to really work hard to prevent sagging into low push up.
What does all of this mean? It means that in many cases, unless the student is pretty strong, well practiced and aware of the anatomy behind this movement, they will potentially move lower than elbow level in Low Push Up before “swooping” up into Upward Dog.
Why does this matter? Well, as we move up into Upward Dog from a “lower than ideal” position in Low Push Up, we can potentially injure the structure of the shoulder (rotator cuff and related joint elements). So, we only want to lower half way down.
You’ve heard this before, right? “Come into plank and lower halfway down.”
Well, what if we told our students to only lower “ABOUT HALFWAY.” What do you think would happen?
I’ve been changing my instruction for the past week and what I’ve noticed is just with this one shift in verbal instruction, my students are NOT lowering below elbow level. As such, when they move into Upward Dog, they are less likely to create unhealthy shoulder action on the way “up.”
Now, there are many other key actions to include in moving from High to Low Push Up ( I created a whole course on it online… you can check that out here) but suffice it to say that just changing this one verbal instruction (and explaining WHY you are saying it the way you are) could be a big help to your students.
Have you tried to change something about what you say when teaching and have been pleased with the impact? Share it here!