My shoulders have been feeling tighter that usual, (probably because I held a sick baby in arms a lot last week). Without full mobility your strength and function are affected; not only is performance influenced this can lead to injury if you aren’t careful. So here is a little something I have been working on in spare moments:
First a Iyengar yoga-style shoulder sequence, transitioning to a few other things I really like.
Tadasana (Mountain Pose) while really emphasizing external rotation in my shoulders (ROTATE your shoulders down! Your “elbow pit” should be facing forward), plus pulling my shoulder blades apart & my upper arms back. *In fact remember these three actions during all the shoulder work (rotate down, pull apart and back)
Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute) Take a minute to check your ribs…Get those suckas DOWN! Don’t cheat your shoulder stretch by thrusting your ribs up. You can turn this pose into Utkatasana (Chair Pose) if you want to sneak in a squat.
Now using a way that is challenging to you, get down on the floor in Virasana (Hero Pose). Cross your arms behind you, grasping each elbow with the opposite hand. Hold, then switch which arm is on top.
Next tuck your toes under your bottom to give the toes & forefoot a nice stretch. Change your arms to Urdhva Baddhanguliyasana (Upward Bound Fingers Pose). Hold, then switch which thumb is on top.
Stand back up, again challenging yourself to use a new movement to rise. Don’t use your auto-pilot!
Standing again in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), practice Gomukhasana Arms (Cow Face Pose). I’ll post a picture of this on my Instagram. Hold, release, switch arms. This pose really challenges me to keep my alignment. Protect your joints & respect where you are with this pose. Use a belt or a similar object if you aren’t able to hold your hands together. When I first started practicing this, I had to use a strap.
Still standing in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) switch to Pashchima Namaskarasana (Reverse Prayer Pose). Keep your shoulders from creeping up to your ears, & strive to have your the thumb pad of your hands to touch. Even if they can’t, practice drawing them closer together.
Sit down in Lotus (Criss-Cross Applesauce). Now to stretch the top of our hands & wrists because it all is connected. Make a table-top with your forearms. Make a fist with one hand, then grasp the fist with the other hand. Pull on the skin of the fist with the grasping hand, then start to slowly bend your forearm at the wrist. You should feel a nice stretch along your fisted hand & wrist.
Stand-up, sit-down (fight fight fight) in Lotus (Criss-Cross) with the other leg in front. Repeat the hand & wrist stretch on the opposite side.
Switch to Baddha Konasana (Butterfly). Bring your hands together as in Namaste (Prayer Pose) but flip it by rotating down & away. Stop when the backs of the hands are touching & look as if in prayer pose. Strive to bring the hands down, while keeping them close to the chest and as much contact maintained between the two hands. You should feel a nice stretch similar to the previous poses.
Stand up & find a wall. Bear with me here for a great stretch…Pretend you are a server at a restaurant. Place the hand & arm holding your tray against the wall. Holding your arm still start to slowly take a forward turn away from your arm until you feel a nice stretch.
Lie down on the ground in Viparita Shalabhasana (Superman Pose). Now pretend the Village People are singing to you as you move your arms through the shapes of I, Y, T, & W. Repeat this shape-making arm exercise while doing a wall sit trying to keep your shoulders, lower ribs & thumbs against the wall.
All done! Sorry if you are now singing YMCA in your head.
PS If you struggle with diastasis recti like I do, stretching the shoulders is very important for improving the rib thrust that prevents the transverse abdominis from activating.