Hamstrings, back and shoulders: these are the mainstay focus of any yoga practice.
Yes, you may practice types of yoga that also focus on your arms, abdominals, hip flexors, and a long list of etceteras. But aside from escaping the crowded quality of daily living, the average person taking a yoga class is looking for relief from sore back, sore shoulders/neck or limited range of motion from tight hamstrings.
The reason why your neck and shoulders are sore (and your hamstrings stiff) is because you sit at a computer way too long (and anything beyond a couple of hours a day is indeed too long).
So, you could give up your computer-using ways and not need to do this stuff, or pull out a couple of yoga blocks (or two sturdy boxes of equivalent dimensions) and try this.
In four easy steps:
1. Lie face down. Place the blocks arm’s distance away and put your hands on top of the blocks. If two blocks is too much, try it with just one block.
2. Keeping your elbows straight, lower your head so it hangs easily between your arms. Take three long, slow breaths here and watch the further relaxation of your shoulders on the completion of the exhalations.
4. Now bend your knees and keep that rocking motion while tilting your shins in the opposite direction. So your shins do a windshield-wiping motion (slowly) while your arms and shoulders tilt in the diagonally opposite direction. Repeat for five slow breaths, and then rest on your back for three slow breaths.
Benefits: The hanging-down component of this pose offers a quick and effective way to ease tight shoulders and upper back; the side-to-side slow transition adds a further component of reminding auxiliary muscles to let go.
Avoid if: Your shoulders, your wrists, your lumbar spine, or conceivably the back of your neck, hurt. If it’s the shoulders, it’s possible that by using lesser height (one block instead of two) you might find this amenable. Otherwise, skip this in favor of even gentler poses.
Final thoughts: It took me over two hours to craft and edit today’s visual yoga blog. What are the chances of me giving up my computer-using ways? 0 percent! What are the chances I need to go do this pose right now? 100 percent!
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Ed: Catherine Monkman