On Push Ups in DDP Yoga

I’m seriously working on push ups; I want to master this as a yoga pose. But DDP challenges his yogis to do them in a most difficult sequence: set up in plank pose, then take the push up down on a three count, then hold for three hovering just off the floor — and here’s the hard part — then back up on a three count! I can almost never pull this off. I can go down for three and lock into a very low plank, where I can stay just fine for three, but then there doesn’t seem to be a way to push back up. I’m stuck, I have to put my knees down to proceed. Alternately, I can take the push up down just a little way on that three count, really just bending my elbows a bit, not very deep, and I can push back up from this. Though it’s still hard.

I can push up from off the floor, that’s not a problem. I can really pop up off the floor with fluidity. It’s pushing up from this low, hovering plank pose that I lock into for the three count that seems an impossibility. Is there a trick I’m missing? A little correction I can make to get the right leverage? For example, pushing up off the floor is much easier if you straighten your legs so that your knees lift off the ground into more of a straight line. Maybe my hands should be in a different place relative to my shoulders? Anybody have any ideas?

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UPDATE! This posts gets a hit every now and again, so I thought I’d share my progress on the DDP down-for-3, up-for-3 yoga push up. I never did find any particular advice on how to do it more skillfully; it turns out it just takes practice, practice, practice. I kept working on it every other day and gradually built my arm strength, and now I’m pretty happy with the yoga push up I can do! And the cool thing is, there’s still room for me to improve. Who knows what a stud I’ll be if I keep working on it.

If you’re trying to get better at this push up sequence, I would advise you play with it, look for your own micro-adjustments. Maybe move you hand placement a little forward or a little back. Maybe push a little of your weight forward from your toes to your hands, or vice versa. Just a tiny little bit with these adjustments. If you’re like me and you can go way down but not come back up, maybe stop going down so far and just work on going down and up a little. Maybe that way you can increase the degree to which you can go down and then back up a little bit every time.

Also, I’ve learned that shoulders are key in yoga poses where you have your weight on your hands. When you are in plank pose, check and see if you are hunching your shoulders, and do what you can to pull your shoulder blades back down your back. You should do this in every yoga pose, especially warrior and other standing poses, bring your shoulders back down as much as they will go. It’s like when birds fold their wings back down because they’re not using them, shoulder blades are like this too. We get in the habit of having our shoulders all hunched forward and cranked up from driving and sitting at computers and such, and we lose the range of mobility to pull them back and down. If your shoulders are all frozen and painful like mine were, tissues fused and all, just start working on this, even thinking about it. Just sit there and think about your shoulders, imagine them having more definition, more range of motion. Maybe look at pictures of really fit people’s backs — not to make yourself feel bad that you aren’t so fit, but to notice the possibilities of what your shoulders can become.

Like anything in yoga, use common sense and discernment. If something doesn’t feel right or hurts in a bad way, back off. I find it’s also okay to completely back completely off a yoga sequence that’s not working for you and try more gentle poses that work the same area. Then when you go back to the difficult thing a few months later, it will probably be a lot easier. Also, maybe you’ve got some tight stuff in your arms that needs to let go, in which case more stretching and massages (if you can get ’em) might help too. Maybe look into body rolling, that stuff is AWWWEESOME for working through tight stuff. Each of our bodies is very specific in size and shape, and we all have our own strengths and limitations, so it’s all about figuring out your own way that works.

The amazing thing about yoga is that if you just keep practicing as best you can, eventually you find yourself doing things that didn’t look humanly possible when you started. Put your faith in this when you’re having a rough day or your body isn’t cooperating. It’s a process with highs and lows, so just embrace the practice and don’t worry too much about success. Success will come on its own in ways you never imagined!

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