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If you have a long day of sitting ahead of you (perhaps at a desk, in a car, or in front of a screen) do some shoulder stretches first.
The poses outline below will take about 10 minutes, and make a big difference. They will open up and release tension from the shoulders, chest, arms and upper back.
You will need one block, or object of a similar size (a book, a box, or even a water bottle might do).
1. Child’s Pose – Bring the big toes together, and the knees as wide as you like. Sit the hips down on the heels. Coming down on the fingertips, start to walk them forward. Lowering the forehead to the mat. Keep the elbows lifted, roll the shoulders down and away from the ears. Hold here for several breaths.
2. Shoulder Retraction/Protraction – Sit back on the heels (or if more comfortable find a cross legged position). Grab the block (or stand in prop), place it between the palms. Extend the arms out in front of you. As you press into the block, draw the shoulder blades back behind you. Then push the hands forward, separating the shoulder blades as much as you can. This is a small/subtle movement. Keep the hands up at shoulder height, and try not to bend into the elbows. You may find this easier for one shoulder than the other. Take several rounds.
3. Chest Opening – Reach the block up to the sky. Notice if your chest wants to move out. Draw the floating ribs in. Bend the elbows and bring the block to the back of the head. Reach the elbows up as high as you can, squeezing the block and pressing the head back.
4. Forearm Plank – Bring the forearms down to the mat, continuing to hold onto the block. Step the feet back behind you. Push into the block with the palms. Reach out long, kicking back through heels and reaching crown of the head forward.
5. Warrior 1 with Archer Arms – Come to stand at the top of your mat, with feet a bit wider than hip width. Step the left foot back, spinning the toes towards top left corner of the mat, and heel down. Bend into the right knee. Reach the arms up overhead. Bend into the right elbow. Use the left hand to push the elbow back, or bring the left hand under and clasp hands. Push the right elbow up. Keep the floating ribs in as you sink hips a bit lower.
6. Pyramid with Archer Arms – Straighten the front leg. Bring your left foot in a couple of inches. Inhale to lift and lengthen. As you exhale, tilt forward, coming parallel to the floor.
7. Forward Fold with Hands Clasped – Step to the top of the mat with feet hip width apart. Bring the hands down and interlace fingers behind your back. Roll the shoulders back, bending the elbows, and bringing thumbs to the the tailbone. Bend generously in the knees as you fold forward, belly to thighs. Maybe lift the knuckles up and over, keeping a bend in the arms.
These 7 poses come from Day 25 of my 30 day Morning Yoga Movement challenge. If you want to start with yoga every morning for 30 days, sign up here.
Or practice along with this video by clicking play below.
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