Squeeze every last drop out of your summer and step into the change of season with this wild thing flow – the ultimate heart opening pose.
One thing we do well is make hay while the sun shines; knowing that around the corner the sun may not be shining too brightly. Make the most of those last few weeks of brighter days with this Wild Thing sequence.
Flip your dog
Camatkarasana, which translates from sanskrit to English as ‘the ecstatic unfolding of the enrapture heart’, is more commonly referred to as wild thing. But you’ll also sometimes hear it being referred to as flipping your dog. Wild thing is what I would consider one of those instant happy poses. It cracks opens the heart centre and ripples energy through the whole back body. There is always a noticeable change in energy levels in a yoga class after wild thing.
However getting in and out of wild thing can be a bit of a leap of faith. Stepping the top leg back and trusting that you’ll find the ground before you topple over, while reaching your arm up overhead can be both alarming and exhilarating. When you negotiate wild thing, and trust your inner ‘I can do this’ yogi, there is a great sense of achievement.
What’s the point?
Wild Thing releases shoulder tension and back stiffness. It stretches out the hip flexors, chest and the entire length of the spine. It strengthens the arms and shoulders; and requires 360 core stability to get in and out of the pose. Wild Thing is not just a backbend it’s an entire back body bend from the tips of your toes to the tip of your crown.
As a backbend, it’s energising, eases stress and anxiety, aids digestion, and boosts the immune system. It’s also an inversion so you get all the lovely benefits of flipping your heart above your head. Things like increased circulation, focus and concentration. It also balances the nervous system.
Prepping for wild thing
As always, prep is key to finding confidence in the pose. Opening the hip flexors and warming up the whole spine will help you find your optimum expression of the pose. Core activation will help control your movement in and out of the pose, and protect the lower back. Adding some arm and shoulder strengthening poses will keep that supporting arm and shoulder joint safe.
How to flip your dog
After you have warmed up and before you’re ready to go, run through these alignment cues. It might be hard to read them while your in the pose!
- From plank pose with feet together, roll onto the little toe side of your right foot, stack your feet together, legs straight.
- Place your right hand directly under your right shoulder, shoulders stacked, draw your navel towards your spine. Claw the mat with your right hand.
- Step your left foot behind your right leg with a bent knee, inhale here.
- Exhale, ground into your right foot and the balls of your left foot, squeeze your right glute and lift your hips up high. Arch your whole back body from your toes to the tip of your crown.
- Rotate your left palm to face the front of the mat, sweep your arm up and over your ear. Reach through your fingertips.
- Expand through the collarbones and lift your chest up and forward to the front of your mat.
- Curl your upper back, lengthen your neck and softly reach your head back, open through your heart centre, gaze up.
- The wrist joint tires very easily. Don’t hang around too long in plank and side plank before you take your wild thing.
- If your wrist does fatigue take child’s pose with your arms reaching towards your feet and take some wrist circles. They tire easily, but they recover fast.
- Track an imaginary arch through your midline – starting with your toes, moving up through your legs, hips, chest reaching arm and tip of the crown. Let the pose ripple through your entire back body.
- Own the space you occupy!
Go with the flow
READ MORE: Splits masterclass
Ruth Delahunty is a 200hr Yoga Alliance certified teacher and founder of Yogaru.ie, a yoga lifestyle website that promotes a yoga way of living both on and off the mat. For more information visit yogaru.ie.