Skip to main content

Shoulder-opening, sitting and balancing

A miscellaneous session focusing on different parts of the body.

Contents

Introduction

Overview of this sequence

Today’s session is a very miscellaneous session.

There are shoulder-opening poses, some inversions, a few standing and seated asanas, and several arm balances.

It’s interesting to see how a sequence made up of so many different groups of poses can stay coherent and how the poses can end up creating a harmonious whole by the end.

Step-by-step guide to the sequence

After Supta Virasana and Uttanasana, we start with some shoulder-opening poses: Baddanguliyasana, Urdhva Hastasana, and Paschima Namaskar.

Observe if this warm-up section has given a little more freedom for Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Full Arm Balance) and Pincha Mayurasana (Elbow Balance).

For the four standing poses, we work with blocks to turn the hand to face forward and backwards and find what this brings to the shoulder and upper body in the pose: Trikonasana, Parivrtta Trikonasana, Parsvottanasana and Prasarita Padottanasana.

Sirsasana 2 and then Sirsasana 1 follow, and we explore going from one to the other. Those not going into the full inversion can set up cross bolsters instead.

We then come down to sit in Virasana with Parvatasana followed by Ubhaya Padangusthasana to integrate the pelvis to the legs and the arms.
Gomukhasana preparation and then the full pose, as a lead-in to Lolasana. Tolasana, Padmasana preparation or another Lolasana come next.

To open the pelvis and release any tension from the balancing poses, sit in Baddha Konasana and Upavistha Konasana and notice how the lift of the spine affects the inner legs and groins. These also release the lower abdominal and diaphragm area from any residual tension.

Adho Mukha Svanasana to Chaturanga Dandasana and Urdhva Mukha Svanasana in a sequence, repeated twice. See what comes well, what may be harder at this stage and why. Notice the integration of the pelvis that may be felt from the previous poses. How do the shoulders feel now?

Lie back on your mat for Chatushpadasana. The upper chest opening is good preparation for Sarvangasana, Halasana and Karna Pidasana. The alternative to the inversion today is Setu Bandha over one or two bricks, with knees bent and then straight legs.

Simple Cross legs to release the neck and the lower back, and then lie back in Savasana. Use two half-folded blankets placed horizontally to assist in keeping the centre sternum and side chest open, whilst becoming still and centred through Savasana now at the end of the sequence.

View sequence

Supta Virasana
Reclining Hero Pose
Lay on your back with your legs bent, your toes pointing backward.
Virasana Forward
Downward-Facing Hero Pose
Join your feet together under your buttocks and keep your knees far enough apart for your ribs to fit in between your legs as you fold forward. You can rest your head on the floor or on a block.
Tadasana
Mountain Pose
Stand up tall and straight, place your feet close together, with your heels and big toes touching. Imagine as if you are standing with your back against the wall. Extend your whole body from the heels up through the crown of your head.
Uttanasana
Standing Forward Bend
Starting in Tadasana, exhale and reach down towards your feet. Let your spine release downwards. You can bend your knees or place your hands on blocks if you lack the necessary flexibility.
Urdhva Baddanguliyasana
Upward Salute with Interlocked Fingers
Stretch your arms in front of you and interlock your fingers. Turn your palms inside out and lift your arms up overhead, making sure to keep your shoulders open. Change the interlock of your fingers and repeat.
Paschima Namaskar
Reverse Prayer Pose
Stand in Tadasana and spread your arms outward. Then bring your hands behind your back, join your palms together, and walk them up to capacity. If you lack wrist mobility, you can also simply grab hold of your elbows.
Urdhva Hastasana
Upward Salute
Keep your shoulders open and stretching away from your ears as you externally rotate your arms and lift them up above your head. Resist the urge to tip backwards, maintain the Tadasana line.
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
Press evenly into your hands and feet. The main aim is to elongate the back of your body and lift your hips up as high off the ground as possible without losing the stable foundation created by your hands and feet. If you lack the hamstring flexibility, bend your knees a little.
Virasana Forward
Downward-Facing Hero Pose
Join your feet together under your buttocks and keep your knees far enough apart for your ribs to fit in between your legs as you fold forward. You can rest your head on the floor or on a block.
Adho Mukha Vrksasana
Handstand
Open your hands into the floor and strengthen your arms as you lift your body up, one leg at a time, into an inverted balance. Use the wall for support if necessary. If pushing yourself up proves to be too difficult, you can walk your feet up the wall.
Uttanasana
Standing Forward Bend
Starting in Tadasana, exhale and reach down towards your feet. Let your spine release downwards. You can bend your knees or place your hands on blocks if you lack the necessary flexibility.
Pincha Mayurasana
Feathered Peacock Pose
Spread your weight evenly across your forearms, activate your shoulders, and lengthen your spine as you lift yourself into this inverted balance. Use wall support if needed. You can also wrap a belt around your arms to keep them steady.
Virasana Forward
Downward-Facing Hero Pose
Join your feet together under your buttocks and keep your knees far enough apart for your ribs to fit in between your legs as you fold forward. You can rest your head on the floor or on a block.
Utthita Trikonasana
Extended Triangle Pose
Keep the toes and kneecap of your left leg pointed forward and, keeping your spine straight and long, stretch over your leg. Place your left hand on your ankle or on a block next to your foot. Look up towards your extended right arm.
Parivritta Trikonasana
Revolved Triangle Pose
Keep yourself rooted through your toe mounds as you twist and balance. Make sure your spine is straight and elongated, use blocks if necessary.
Parsvottanasana
Pyramid Pose
Place your feet one leg-length apart, your back foot angled out slightly. Keep your legs straight as you start to fold over your front leg, maintaining a concave spine for as far into the bend as possible.
Prasarita Padottanasana (Head Down)
Wide-Legged Forward Bend
Plant your feet as wide apart as you can. Place your hands on the floor and lengthen forward through your spine. Once you have achieved the concave spine, start to walk your hands backward to capacity, aiming to lengthen and release your spine as evenly as possible.
Tadasana
Mountain Pose
Stand up tall and straight, place your feet close together, with your heels and big toes touching. Imagine as if you are standing with your back against the wall. Extend your whole body from the heels up through the crown of your head.
Shoulder-opening, sitting and balancing
Headstand 2
The same as Salamba Sirsasana 1, except that you support yourself on your hands instead of your forearms. The hands point inward, and the arms are bent with the elbows pointing outward.
Salamba Sirsasana Wall Support
Headstand 1
Activate your shoulders and upper back muscles as you lift your body up into inverted balance. Use the wall for support if necessary.
Virasana Forward
Downward-Facing Hero Pose
Join your feet together under your buttocks and keep your knees far enough apart for your ribs to fit in between your legs as you fold forward. You can rest your head on the floor or on a block.
Parvatasana in Virasana
Mountain Pose in Hero Pose
Sit in Virasana, stretch your arms in front of you, and interlock your fingers. Turn your palms outward and, keeping your shoulders open and ribs in neutral, extend your arms upward.
Shoulder-opening, sitting and balancing
Double Toe Hold
Start in a seated position. Bend your knees and grab a hold of your big toes. Extend your legs up and balance yourself on your coccyx to assume a V-shape with your body. Pull your abs in, activate your core, open your chest. If you cannot reach your ankles, use a belt to help you reach your feet.
Gomukhasana
Cow Face Pose
Cross your legs over each other, bringing your knees one over the other. Place your feet next to your hips, and point your toes backward. Bring your hands behind your back, your elbows pointing in opposite directions. Join your hands or grab onto a belt if necessary. (A variation involves Garudasana arms)
Shoulder-opening, sitting and balancing
Pendant Pose
Kneel. Take your left shin over your right calf and press your legs together. Place your hands by your sides and, leaning forward, lift yourself up into a rocking balance. Strap a belt over your legs if necessary. Repeat on both sides.
Dandasana
Staff Pose
Point your sit-bones down and extend your spine upwards through the crown of your head. Use support under your buttocks or bend knees if needed to get your back straight.
Shoulder-opening, sitting and balancing
Scale Pose
Sit in Padmasana. Place your hands by your side, shift your weight forward slightly, and lift yourself up into balance. Repeat changing the cross of your legs.
Baddha Konasana
Bound Angle Pose
Bring your feet as close as possible to your pelvis and join them together. Straighten your back and let gravity pull your knees down toward the floor. If necessary, use a strap to hold your feet in place.
Upavistha Konasana
Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend
Use support under buttocks if your inner groins roll backward. Kneecaps and all ten toes face the ceiling. Keep your hands by your by hips, fingers pointing forwards. Lengthen your spine. Once you have mastered these foundations, you can also bend forward while reaching your feet with your hands. Use a belt if necessary.
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
Press evenly into your hands and feet. The main aim is to elongate the back of your body and lift your hips up as high off the ground as possible without losing the stable foundation created by your hands and feet. If you lack the hamstring flexibility, bend your knees a little.
Shoulder-opening, sitting and balancing
Four-Limbed Staff Pose
Start in plank, with your back straight, hands right below the shoulders. As you exhale, bend your elbows and shift forward and down so that your body is parallel to but not quite touching the floor.
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
Upward-Facing Dog Pose
Point your toes backward and activate your arm muscles as you lift the front of your body up off the floor. Keep your hips and thighs firmly grounded. Open your chest and shoulders.
Chatushpadasana
Four-Footed Pose
Lie down with your knees bent so that your feet are close to your buttocks. Grab onto your ankles and lift your hips up above the ground. Open your chest up and breathe.
Halasana
Plough Pose
Use support under your shoulders. Keeping your shoulders open, lift your hips up high above your head, dropping your feet down behind you. Place your hands on your back to help keep it from rounding.
Sarvangasana
Shoulderstand
Activate your arms and shoulders as you lift your body up perpendicular to the floor. Use blankets or bolsters to support your shoulders. Make sure the back of your neck stays relaxed and maintains its natural curve.
Halasana
Plough Pose
Use support under your shoulders. Keeping your shoulders open, lift your hips up high above your head, dropping your feet down behind you. Place your hands on your back to help keep it from rounding.
Shoulder-opening, sitting and balancing
Ear Pressure Pose
Start with your hips raised high over your head (in Halasana), your shoulders resting on the floor, or some blankets, your legs stretched out behind your head. Bend your knees and bring your thighs down so they are positioned on either side of your head. Breathe and feel your lower back release.
Simple Cross Legs Forward
Sit with your legs crossed. Keep your sit-bones pointing down as you stretch your arms forward to capacity, lengthening your spine.
Savasana
Corpse Pose
Lie down on the floor. Spread your arms and legs slightly at your side. Relax and concentrate on your breath.