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Release Tension in the Shoulders and Neck with Yoga

I often get asked by my yoga students for a stretch that focuses on releasing tension in the shoulders and neck. It's an area of the body where a lot of people hold tension. I know I do. And this is one of my favorite poses to do when it feels like boulders are resting on top of my shoulders.

Start on your hands and your knees. Inhale as you lift your right arm to the sky and allow your chest to open. Then as you exhale bring that right arm under your body and gently lower the shoulder down to the ground. Rest your right temple down on your mat and keep looking at that right thumb as you lift the left arm to the sky. Be sure that it feels as though your hips stay over your knees.

Take three to five breaths then use the left hand to press into the mat and lift you back onto your hands and knees. Begin again for the left side by first inhaling the arm to the sky and allowing the body to really feel the openness in the chest and stretch in the side body. Be sure to send me an email with your yoga related questions; I'd love to answer them here on the website. Gretchen (at) BeeYogaFusion.com  

Core Power!

We don't often think of adding a core exercise to a headstand..but why not?
(Only try this if you are comfortable in your tripod headstand.)

Before taking the legs to the sky, create what I like to call an "egg shape" with your body= holding the knees to the chest. Extend one leg straight out in front of you and keep the other leg bent, as shown in the picture. Slowly lower the toes of the straight leg down toward the ground but don't touch the ground simply hover and now bring it back to the starting position. Repeat this several times before switching legs. It's really important to go slowly and focus on your breathing while maintaining the core being engaged.  

Mastering Arm Balances- Try this!

Arm balances build amazing strength in your arms and core but honestly they are just fun to do. You come out of them typically with a smile on your face thinking to yourself- "I did that!!!"

Try playing around with Eka Pada Koundinyasana II (with a bent front leg) in these steps. Build up to it and take your time. You may not get off the ground on the first time. Learning how to do anything in life takes practice. Arm balances are no different. Remember we don't hop, we lift.

  • Start in plank and bring a knee to a tricep, then lower down to chaturanga. Press back up to plank. Repeat this several times to get comfortable with the shape and to build your strength in the arms. Be sure to try it on both legs!
  • Once that feels easier to do in your body- try to fly! Feel the weight shift into your entire hands, even the fingers. And lift the back leg. Don't forget, core needs to be engaged. Don't hop! (When you hop the back leg you then have to overcompensate for balance and you make it harder on yourself.)
  • Keep trying to fly on each leg, you might be surprised that it's easier to do on one side of the body rather than the other.  
  • Try and hold the shape for several breaths. Then when ready extend the front leg straight. 

You did it!!!!!