Yoga for a Healthy Back: Elise Miller Shows How to Lengthen Your Back in Downward Dog Pose

Wall ropes are a staple in many Iyengar-based yoga studios. Invented by BKS Iyengar, he and his students used them as a prop to support and intensify asana practice. In my exploration, I’ve found both strengthening and therapeutic uses for them, depending on what I’m needing at the moment.

Most people don’t have the luxury of installing wall ropes in their homes. And since COVID has closed a whole lot of yoga studios, those of us who love using ropes have at least temporarily lost access to them. So I was delighted to be reminded of this option for getting some traction at home, using a simple yoga strap and a couple of doorknobs.

In the following video, Elise Browning Miller, a Bay area yoga teacher, and scoliosis specialist, walks us through an enhanced Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana), attaching a strap to inner and outer doorknobs on a sturdy door, then taking it around the upper thighs, at the fold, or hip crease.

The sequence then moves us into a right angle, and then a Supported Downward Facing Dog Pose on a chair. From here, we make a transition to a full Downward Facing Dog Pose with hands on the floor. In this video, Miller shows how you can use this pose to stretch out your back. Take a look at her clear, precise instructions below:

Yoga for Back Care: Free Online Video – 3-Part Quick Fix for Your Back


Elise Browning Miller, San Francisco Bay Area teacher, Senior Iyengar teacher, back pain specialistElise Miller, M.A. in Therapeutic Recreation from the University of North Carolina, is a Senior Certified Iyengar Yoga teacher from Palo Alto who has been teaching yoga throughout the United States and internationally since 1976. As a founding director of the California Yoga Center in Mountain View and Palo Alto, CA, Elise teaches classes and workshops specializing in back and sports-related injuries and is a faculty member at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco. Elise has successfully used yoga to minimize the effects of her own scoliosis and sees clients privately with scoliosis and other back-related problems. She has published numerous articles on scoliosis and other yoga-related subjects in Yoga Journal and other national magazines. Elise has studied on numerous occasions with B.K.S. Iyengar and Geeta Iyengar in India. She has produced the Yoga for Scoliosis DVD and booklet, the Yoga for Backcare booklet, Intermediate Yoga in Fiji DVD, and a new edition of her book Yoga, Anytime, Anywhere. Elise’s joyous personality and ease of communication endear her to students with a teaching style that is down-to-earth, precise, and nurturing.

Bridget Frederick, eRYT 500, yoga teacher, writer, Iyengar style yoga

Bridget Frederick, eRYT 500, is a graduate of The Berkeley Yoga Room Advanced Studies Program. With a strong focus on anatomy, balance, and core strength, her classes aim to make yoga accessible to anyone who is interested in finding the relief, strength, or stillness that yoga can offer. Inspiration for her teaching comes from current and former teachers Donald Moyer, Mary Lou Weprin, Julie Gudmestad, Gay White, Ada Lusardi, Sandy Blaine, and Herta Weinstein.

Reprinted with permission from Yoga for Healthy Aging– and Elise Browning Miller. Find the original video here.

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