Free Your Shoulders
“FREE YOUR SHOULDERS”
This is a wonderful exercise to open up the shoulders, release unnecessary tension around the neck, open the chest and improve your posture. It is also an ideal and necessary preparation exercise for more challenging poses such as backbends, Pincha Mayurasana (forearm balances) and handstands.
The trick is to draw and connect the head of the arm bones into the arm sockets to bring the bottom tips of the shoulder blades together. Learn to use your breath, awareness and mindful movement to open up tight places in your body.
For this exercise, place a yoga block right at the bottom tips of your shoulders and lie back. Do the following actions:
- Mindfully move with long deep breaths.
- Squeeze your feet and legs together – actively ground your legs and hips
- Clasp your hands behind your skull so that you can support your head.
- Bring your elbows in.
- From the elbows, draw the shoulders/armpits into the back. Feel your shoulder blades squeeze together into the block.
- Gently, press your head on to your hands as you curl deeper into the bottom tips of your shoulder blades.
- Continue to draw your elbows, shoulders and armpits deeper into your back.
- If you are able to keep the shoulders integrated, stretch your arms over the head.
- Keep your legs strong and hips rooted on the floor.
Breathe steadily as you go deeper into the stretch. The block is a great reminder to soften into the support, allowing your chest and heart to open.
If your shoulders are very tight then start with an easier variation – for example, you can lower the setting of the block to horizontal rather than vertical.
If you don’t have a block, get creative! You can use the sofa, placing the bottom tips of the shoulders on the arm rest- follow the same instructions and actions.
This weekend we had the wonderful opportunity to host Desiree Rumbaugh for a series of Workshops in Dublin, Ireland. On this video she shows another version of this exercise using a folding chair. It is very good and effective but you might want to try the other ones first and graduate to this one as you develop more flexibility.
Happy Shoulders and enjoy!