Technique Tuesday - Open Hips and Shoulders Pt. 1Mar 22, 2022
Let's talk about hips and shoulders. Here is a nice flow that we will be exploring over the next few Tuesdays to help open tight hips and shoulders after sitting all day.
Let's be honest - we all spend a lot of time on devices, and sitting in postures that aren't exactly conducive to overall posture health or even comfort! We often think that we need to spend an entire hour on our yoga mats or in a gym to make a difference in our physical and mental health, but the truth is, while an hour is great, ANY amount of time you spend on your wellbeing is time very well spent, indeed.
This is a great sequence to try if you have even just a minute or two to slow down and explore your body and see what feels good. Remember to take your time, modify or rest whenever you need, and never force your body.
Let's start with a modified version of this sequence - and please know that while I am showing downward facing dog in this video, if that is too much for your shoulders, or you are tired, or just not wanting to do downward facing dog, you can do this from table pose. Many find it easier to move their legs forward and back from downward facing dog as it gives more space for the legs, but do what suits you.
Notice I am also using blocks here to lift my hands and give more space for my body and legs - this is a really great way to accommodate if you have more stiffness or need more room - all bodies are different and need to be respected! Alternatively you can use a chair, though your downward facing dog will look slightly different, as will the final lunges.
You may also wish to use a pad underneath your knees if your knees get sore when they are down on your mat.
Starting in downward facing dog or table, feel your palms pushing into the mat, pushing the ground away from you. Release your shoulders away from your ears, and let your head hang heavy to release the top of the spine. Feel your sit bones tilting towards the sky as you may feel a gentle stretch along your shoulders, arms, and down the backs of your legs. Knees can be bent, and heels can be off the floor - try not to lift them up deliberately, just try to intend them towards the floor.
Engaging your abdominals and shoulders, inhale and bring your right foot to the mat at the outside of your right hand, gently placing your left knee on the mat. feel your heart and ribs broadening, shoulders wide, as you perhaps look forwards.
Optional: ground your left hand onto your mat under your left shoulder, and slowly reach your right fingertips to the sky, opening your chest to the right. Alternatively, if your shoulders are too tight, put your right fingertips on the side of your head and open your right elbow, chest and torso to the right. Take a few breaths here. Feel the back of the right hip, thigh and buttock as it gently stretches, feel the front of your left hip as it gently opens. Feel this gentle twist through your spine, feel your right side ribs opening, and left side gently compressing.
On an exhale, bring your right hand back to the mat on the inside of your right foot, press both palms into the mat, bring your right foot back to the start, returning to downward facing dog or table pose. Take a breath or two, and then try the other side.
Try this a few times on each side, then give yourself some wiggle room - some free movement in table or even just resting in child's pose and see how you feel. Notice your physical body, your breathing, your thoughts, emotions. Take a few more breaths and give yourself a pat on the back for taking a few minutes to take good care of yourself, body, breath and mind.
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