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August Pose of the Month

Caterpillar pose is an interesting pose and one that fits right in with our theme this month of transitions (read this month’s article related to Transitions).  It is a substitution for the more common Plank and Chaturanga combination that moves you forward from Child’s Pose or Down Dog into the back bend of Cobra or Up Dog.  Caterpillar keeps you lower to the ground and is a more sly way of moving forward for the back bend.  When you imagine a caterpillar moving on a leaf or branch, you see in your minds eye a furry worm inching its way forward, longer and shorter, longer and shorter.  It’s center body raising and lowering with each movement.
It is similar here.  Start the body off in Child’s Pose with the arms reaching forward.  Imagine yourself a slinking caterpillar and keep the chest low towards the ground as you shift the body forward.  The hips will be high and then lower down as the entire body moves forward to a prone position on the floor.  Keep the eyes looking forward to see where you are going.  You’ll often hear the teach say “Chin, Chest, Hips.”  This is in reference to the parts of the body that remain closest to the ground on the movement forward.
Just like with Chaturanga, keep the elbows hugged in tight towards the ribs to keep the shoulders safe.  Starting from Child’s Pose, roll the elbows down toward the floor.  Some people will be able to start with the elbows touching the floor, others will have their elbows hovering near the floor (see the video below). Rolling them in here helps you to keep the elbows in through the entire movement.  Do not move the hands forward in this pose.  Start with the arms extended and keep the hands put as the body moves forward.
Press down and back through the feet to move the body forward and be sure to keep the legs and abdomen engaged to ensure a smooth transition forward.
Let the breath move you through this pose.  An inhale can carry the body forward with grace and release an exhale as the body lands.
What do you feel in this pose?  How does the body react to this different movement forward?  It is so similar to plank and chaturanga and yet so very different.  What does your mind tell you?  “Yay! Something fun and new.” or more along the lines of “What the bleep!  I can’t do this.  We have to practice this for an entire month?  Ugh!”  Observing the mind can be quite fun if you allow yourself to see what is there without judgement.
Let me know how it goes and enjoy the transitions this month!
With love and gratitude,
Mindy Arbuckle
Founder of Maitri Yoga Centers