This session aims to help release tightness in the shoulders and neck. It also takes the hands through a varied range of positions helping to relieve stiffness in the wrists. The restrictions you feel may be recent or chronic. These poses can help to identify areas to be further addressed and to start to undo current tightness.
Set up in Supta Baddha Konasana, lying over a bolster with a block under each outer thigh if needed. It is helpful to start to open the chest with some support, as shoulder and neck tensions are exacerbated by stiffness in the upper back.
Come up into forward Virasana, placing the blocks under the hands to help keep the arms engaged to release the upper back and neck a little more.
Stand in Tadasana, with the feet hip-width apart.
Placing a block between the palms, raise the arms up.
Then hold the horizontal block from underneath, fingers over the top and raise the arms up, elbows straight. This helps to lift and open the back ribs.
Stand with the R side of the body facing towards the side wall, and place the R hand up against the wall, a little higher than the shoulder. Elbow up and keep the pressure steady, going from the little finger towards the index finger.
Then turn the hand so that the fingers are pointing out, and notice the turn of the upper arm.
Finally, turn the fingers down and watch how the elbow stays naturally straight and the trapezius muscle draws down away from the ears. Change sides.
Now stand with the R side of the body near the wall, R arm back with the palm flat against the wall, hand a little higher than the waist. Turn to face away with the chest and hips evenly facing the opposite wall. For the second attempt, see if you can bring the hand up to shoulder height. Change sides.
Prepare for Adho Mukha Svanasana (Dog Pose) with the bricks angled against the wall.
Start with fingers to the side, then move to fingers pointing in, and lastly fingers pointing down. Each variation will open a different area of the shoulders. Look out for particular points of tightness in each variation.
Finish with a last Adho Mukha Svanasana (Dog Pose), bricks flat and perpendicular to the wall. Place the hands onto the back edge of the blocks, thumb on one side and little finger on the other. Elbows up and straight with the head in line with the arms.
Now stand in Tadasana, feet hip-width apart, and take the arms into Baddanguliyasana, Garudasana, Namaskar. Lastly prepare for Gomukhasana, using a belt as needed. One arm at a time first and both arms.
Trikonasana– L back foot to the wall and place a block outside of the outer ankle of the front leg.
Go to Trikonasana to the R and turn the bottom hand out, hold, and then fingers pointing back. Notice the difference in the shoulders and back ribs with each variation. Top hand to the hip, arm long. Change sides.
Set up for Parivrtta Trikonasana – L outer heel to the wall and a block on the outside ankle of the front leg. Turn the hand with fingers pointing out to the side, and then backwards. Notice the action of the arm, shoulder, and back ribs. Change sides.
Prasarita Padottanasana – Bend forward from the hips, legs wide, placing two blocks for the hands under the shoulders. Staying in the concave back position, legs straight, turn the hands out to the side and then fingers back.
Come up and set up two blocks in a T-shape.
Lie back over the two blocks, with the long block under the mid-back ribs and shoulder blades, and the horizontal block for the head. Take more height as needed. Legs straight. Observe the opening in the chest.
Change the blocks so that they are placed one in front of the other lengthways. Take an extra block or a rolled blanket if you are taller.
Lie back over the blocks, with the edge of the shoulders to the back edge of the blocks, hand turned back. If the buttocks drop downwards, place the extra block or rolled blanket underneath.
After 1 or 1.5 minutes, lift the buttocks a little up and slide the shoulders halfway to the floor.
Hold for 1 to 1.5 minutes and then lift and slide the shoulders all the way to the floor. Straighten the legs out and hold another 1-2 minutes. It is similar to a mini Setu Bandha.
Bend the knees, and roll to the R side.
Go to Virasana forward, hands onto the blocks.
Lie back in Savasana and observe if any freedom has come into the shoulders and neck. Soften the breath and stay in Savasana for 3-4 minutes to finish.