Tight shoulders seem to plague almost all of us, from working on the computer and holding the weight of the world. This gentle practice will open and free the shoulders from all directions - the chest, armpits, upper back and neck. Make sure you work within a comfortable range of motion so that you do not make an already sensitive part of the body more sore. Enjoy!
Sharira Mudra Family
Somatic Shoulder Movements
Begin sitting comfortably on floor or in chair. You will repeat each movement five times very slowly, inhaling while you engage the muscles, exhaling while you return to a relaxed position.
Head Right & Left
Inhale turn head to right. Exhale to center. Inhale turn head to left. Exhale to center.
Head Up & Down
Inhale lift chin and draw back of skull down. Exhale draw chin down and in and lift back of skull.
Head Tilt to Side
Inhale and lift right ear up toward ceiling. Exhale return head to center. Inhale and lift left ear up toward ceiling. Exhale return head to center.
Shoulder Elevation & Depression
Inhale and shrug shoulders straight up towards ears.
Exhale draw shoulders down and release completely.
Shoulder Retraction & Protraction
Inhale squeeze shoulders together behind the heart.
Exhale move shoulders away from spine.
Inhale and draw shoulders up and back, exhale and draw shoulders down and forward.
Opposite Shoulder Circles
Inhale as you draw right shoulder forward and left shoulder back, right shoulder up and left shoulder down, right shoulder back and left shoulder forward, right shoulder down and left shoulder up. Exhale and reverse the circle.
Inhale right shoulder forward and left shoulder back, head turns to right. Exhale to center. Inhale opposite side. Exhale center.
Turn head to right. Inhale lift left shoulder and drop back of head toward that shoulder. Exhale draw chin down towards right collar bone and draw left shoulder down. Repeat five times to each side.
Supported Heart Opener
Set up two bolsters perpendicular to spine with a folded blanket under the one toward the back of the mat. Sit on the floor facing away from bolsters. Lie back so that shoulder blades and upper back are supported by shorter bolster and the head and neck are supported by the taller bolster. The upper line of the shoulders and arms should fall in between the bolsters. If the elbows to not readily reach the floor, support with more folded blankets. If the lower back is tense, place a folded blanket under the hips. Either straighten legs out to floor or rest knees over a bolster.
Lie on the side with a bolster or rolled blanket under side ribs and a second bolster to support the head Extend bottom arm between the two bolsters. Begin with both knees bent then try extending top leg in line with the rest of the spine. Raise the top arm overhead and support with the head bolster. Breathe into the rib cage that faces the ceiling. Rest 3-5 minutes per side.
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Stand with feet hips width apart (or toes together, heels slightly separated). Engage the muscles of the legs towards the bones. Draw the belly in and release the tail bone. Lift the chest and draw the shoulder blades down. Press the crown of the head towards the ceiling.
Hold strap in hands that are at least 1 1/2 times as wide as the body. Press shoulder blades down and lengthen arms as you inhale and raise arms overhead. As soon as you feel the shoulders shrugging towards the ears, stop moving upwards. Hold for a few breaths, then exhale to release.
Begin on all fours. Inhale right arm overhead and left leg behind you. Exhale draw right arm to your side and left leg into chest as you round the back. You may also hold the extended posture while engaging the belly.
Begin on the hands and knees, feet flexed. Reach the hands forward and press the hips back so that they are directly over the heels. Extend through the sides of the body being careful not to arch to back.
Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Lie on back with legs straight and feet relaxed to sides. Move arms away from sides slightly and turn palms to face ceiling. You may use support under the knees for low back pain; and a folded blanket under the head if needed. Rest 5-15 minutes.
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.