4 Ways to Stretch Your Shoulders

Is there anything you’d like to work on in your practice today?

I keep hearing “shoulders.” This is fine with me since I’m the one carrying a heavy backpack all over Europe. However, in “normal life” our shoulders are usually killing us from hunching over a computer 9-5…or longer.

There are two ways to stretch our shoulders — forward and back. Sometimes we think a shoulder stretch is a shoulder stretch and eagle arms do the same thing as cactus arms. This isn’t exactly true…

Our shoulders are connected to both back muscles and chest muscles. This is why we practice stretching our shoulders both forward and up (eagle arms) to stretch our upper backs as well as back and down (cactus arms) to open our chests, opposite of hunching.

The next time you’re stretching your shoulders notice how it either opens your chest or stretches your upper back. It’s all connected!

© Yoga By Candace

There are many ways to stretch your shoulders. Here are a few of my favorites:

Shoulder/back stretch:

  1. Lie on your stomach and cross your arms on the ground. Gaze towards the ground neck relaxed. Switch arms, do both sides.
  2. Eagle arms: don’t forget to do both sides!

Shoulder/chest stretch:

  1. Cactus arms with circles, slight back bend, drawing arms up and slowly draw shoulder blades down back.
  2. Bow pose, for a more intense stretch while in bow roll onto your side, pressing shoulder into the ground. Do both sides.

Classroom Yoga

TreeInClassroomThere were many opportunities to share yoga in Zurich– I led five classs during my week there! One of the most interesting experiences was an invitation from my friend Mirjam who teaches English conversation to a group of 20 female students. Mirjam and I created a lesson plan for a 50 minute class that included:

1. General questions to the students and self introduction, why I practice and teach yoga (5 minutes)

2. Class practices tree pose on both sides, I only gave basic instruction (5 minutes)

3. Class discusses their experience in pairs (2 minutes)

4. Group discussion of tree pose, what did you find easy or difficult? Talked about concept of dristi (gaze); breath, balance, difference between right and left sides, etc. (15 minutes)

5. Class practices tree and eagle poses with more cues from our discussion points (5 minutes)

6. Students break into groups to plan other questions they have for me (3 minutes)

7. Spend the rest of the class discussing everything from meditation to life in the US (15 minutes)

The students also made great analogies between yoga and life such as remembering to breath during yoga is like remembering to breathe when putting on makeup! I really had a phenomenal time with these students who really seemed interested in yoga asana and the practice.