My fascination with shoulder opening continues this week with a series of bound arm postures. These are traditional standing/seated poses that use a strap to bind the arms behind the back. Focus is placed on shoulder extension and internal rotation to counter last week's focus on flexion and external rotation, enjoy!
Tadasana w/ Reverse Anjali Mudra
Stand with arms at sides in internal rotation, palms facing out. Bring palms together behind back and turn hands so that fingers are facing upwards. Press thumb side of hands into back and try to keep heels of hands together. If this is too difficult, grasp opposite forearms. Hold 5 breaths, then release.
Proper shoulder alignment is key when approaching many of the common wrist-based postures, such as downward facing dog, plank, side plank, and chaturanga dandasana. This week we will open and strengthen the shoulders and explore the importance of external rotation and the serratus anterior muscle.
Side Plank at wall
Come into downard facing dog with the heels at the wall. Reach the right hand slightly forward, turn the right foot outward onto the floor and place the left foot in front of the right foot, both feet are pressed against the wall. Bring the left hand onto the hip as you press the hips slightly forward in line with the feet and the head, drawing the belly up and releasing the tailbone towards the wall. Draw the right shoulder under (external rotation) to support the weight of the torso and either rest the left hand on the hip or reach the left arm towards the ceiling. Hold 3-5 breaths, then press back into downward facing dog before changing sides.
Good posture depends on a strong core and on integration of the various parts of our body so that they work together. Our core is made up of many different muscles, both on the surface, such as rectus abdominus, and deeper muscles such as the transversus abdominus, psoas, and quadratus lumborum. When all of the core muscles can be accessed and engaged on demand, we are less prone to injury, especially in the lower back. This week we will focus on strengthening the front and back of the torso to integrate the inherent strength of the core.
I attend Cheryl's class regularly and feel that my practice has improved immensely over the past few years due to her expert coaching. Her teaching style is clear and compassionate and her previous experience in teaching adults is evident in her organized approach and easy to understand instructions. I also appreciate that Cheryl not only teaches us about how to correctly position ourselves, but also touches on many aspects of yoga philosophy, which in turn has deepened my personal practice and heightened my awareness of the connection between mind and body, breath and relaxation.