Spice up your standing poses
5 yoga moves to enliven your upper body. By Laurel Stuart
Neck, shoulder and upper back tension is quite prevalent in the West. Pain in our upper back and neck usually occurs because of poor posture, repetitive strain or injury. Have you ever wondered if there were any arm moves you could add to your standing yoga postures to release tension from your upper body? In this article, we’ll explore five arm moves, most of them Forrest yoga creations, that you can add to your regular Virabhadrasana A or B.
Eagle Warrior 2
Come into a Warrior 2 stance with your arms reaching out at shoulder height. On an exhale cross your arms in front of your torso with your left elbow over your right. Bend your arms to a 90-degree angle, your fingers are reaching up to the ceiling. Inhale spread your ribs, as you exhale move your shoulder blades down your back. Inhale, on your next exhale send your elbows forward and up to about nose level. Release your head to rest on your upper arms. Focus on the stretch in your upper back and neck. Stay for 3 to 5 breaths in this position breathing into the stretch. Release the pose. Repeat with right elbow over your left. Depending on your anatomy, eagle arms may be difficult or not attainable to you. Hugging your upper torso while relaxing the neck should create a similar stretch.
Kite Hawk in Warrior 1
In traditional Warrior 1 our arms are normally reaching up to ceiling. For Kite Hawk reach your arms out at your sides, at shoulder height. Bend your elbows slightly. As you inhale lift your chest up while rolling your shoulders up and back, at the end of your inhale your palms are facing up towards the ceiling. On your exhale roll your shoulders up and forward, at the end of your movement your palms again maybe facing up towards the ceiling, the front of your ribs slightly compressed, your gaze directed down towards the floor. That’s one rep. Do 3 to 8 reps.
Shoulder Shrugs in Mountain Pose
Shoulder shrugs elevate, depress, retract and protract the scapulae. Stand in mountain pose. Relax your arms by your sides. On your inhale lift your shoulders up towards your ears, then move your shoulders straight back while keeping them high. As you exhale squeeze your shoulder blades together and draw them down your back. Relax your upper back. Inhale deeply, exhale squeeze your shoulder blades together and down your back. Focus on squeezing the middle aspect of your shoulder blades together. Relax your upper back. Inhale, on your next exhale squeeze your elbows towards each other, squeeze bottom tips of your shoulder blades together, drag your shoulder blades down your back. Relax your upper back. That’s one rep. Do 1 to 3 reps.
Archer Warrior 2
Stand in Warrior 2 and relax your arms by your sides. Inhale reach your left arm up to the ceiling. As you exhale reach your left hand behind your head and neck. This movement deeply flexes the left shoulder. Inhale and on your next exhale move your right hand behind your back, ease the fingers of your right hand towards the fingers of your left hand, grab hold of your left fingers or hold onto a strap with both hands. Breathe into the stretch in your shoulders and upper back. Stay for 3 to 5 breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.
Bird Wing in Warrior 1
In Warrior 1 pose, relax your arms by your sides. Bend your arms at a 90-degree angle, your arms are in front of your torso, your forearms parallel to each other. Gently squeeze your upper arms onto the sides of your torso. Inhale, as you exhale swing your arms out to your sides while keeping your elbows touching your sides. This movement laterally rotates the upper arms. Inhale, return the forearms to a parallel position. That equals one round. Repeat 3 to 8 rounds.
Notice the difference in your shoulders!