2014-11-28 / Health

Yoga Shorts by Yoga Works

No. 19 - My Favorite Stretch

For many of us stress manifests itself in a knotting up of our neck, shoulders and shoulder blades. This physical tension is exhausting. It may lead to headaches, bad posture and can have a negative affect on our outlook. Most times we are not even aware of our propensity to do this. Periodically practicing this stretch, sitting or standing, is a good check in with our stress levels and can eliminate this holding point. It relaxes the mind as well as the body.

Start this pose with a solid foundation. Standing evenly on both feet or if seated checking in that you are evenly weighted on both seat bones.

Focus on taking a few deep, full breaths to settle yourself.

Gently press your palms together in front of your chest, elbows at your side in the prayer position. Inhale and exhale.

Pushing your palms together raise them up over your head, to the steeple position. Align your arms with your ears if possible. Hold this position as you inhale and exhale.

Leaving your base solid, isolate and lift up through one part of your body at a time. Stretch up from your waist, then your rib cage, shoulder blades, shoulders, elbows, wrists, palms and finally your finger tips. Hold this position as you inhale and exhale.

Tie an imaginary string to your finger tips and pull your steeple out in front of you, straight across from your shoulders, stretching your shoulder blades, shoulders, elbows, wrists, palms and fingers as far way from you as you comfortably can. Hold this position as you inhale and exhale.

Roll open your palms to face up, the sides of your hands still touching. Inhale and exhale.

Keeping your palms facing upwards, spread your arms open wide to the cross position, still actively stretching them away from each other. Forming a horizontal, straight line from your shoulders out to your finger tips. Inhale and exhale.

Rotate your palms downwards, parallel to the floor. Inhale and exhale.

As you continue to breathe in and out slowly lower your actively outstretched arms to your sides. Lowering them in increments with your breath.

The full benefits of this pose comes when you inhale and exhale deeply as your arms come to a rest by your sides and you release all effort and stretch. You will feel your shoulders physically slide down away from your neck. All tension gone! Repeat three times.

This stretch releases tension and stress and improves posture. It also strengthens your arms and shoulders while gently stretching and relieving the tendons and ligaments in your wrists and lower arms. It is a great posture for repetitive use issues.

“Taking yoga off the mat” keeps tension at bay and can make for a better day!

Certified in 1995, instructor Helen Yetman-Bellows, owner of Yoga Works, has taught and set up programs for corporations, universities, the military, senior centers, adult education, health clubs, and schools. She takes great pride in the programs she has run for recovering addicts, hospital wellness programs, equestrian centers, classes for the blind, conventions, festivals and large groups as well as her own intimate outdoor yoga programs. She is working on a yoga manual, a DVD and a cable TV show of the same name. Visit www.yogaworks4all.com, email Helen@yogaworks4all.com or call (978) 433- 9962 evenings or (978) 597-0075 days.

Return to top