Teaching Sequence: Shoulder Tension Falls
To bring about an ease of movement and grace in our bodies, most of us can afford to release some extra tension from our shoulders. Too much restriction around our shoulders gives our nervous system an emergency signal to tense for fight or flight. It impedes our movements, whether we are back bending or playing the guitar.
The first part of this warm up is to notice the possibility of letting tension release from the top of the shoulders, from the trapezius muscle. While lying down in first posture, Constructive Rest, feel the top part of your shoulders flow back towards the floor.
The other part of this process to create healthy and free shoulders involves toning the muscles of the upper back. We can draw the shoulder blades towards the spine to connect with the rhomboid muscles. This will us to develop an open chest with the top of the arms right at the side of the body, rather than falling forward like someone who is stressed and tired.
Hopefully you will experience both of these actions during the warm up below.
One long strap, but it is also possible to do it all without a strap.
1. Constructive Rest
Lie down with your knees bent and your feet flat. Rest your knees together. Drape your arms overhead on the floor, elbows bent with one hand on top of the other loosely holding the center of a long strap. Feel the subtle movement of your breath through your body. Let the top of your shoulders fall back towards the floor. Your throat can be an open tunnel for your gentle and powerful wind.
2. Twist to Each Side
Feet stay wide for this twist. Move your knees to the right. As you twist, sense that your shoulders are easy and that your throat is open. Come back through the center and twist left. Return to the center.
3. 1/2 Wheel
Bring your legs parallel to each other, about as wide as your sit bones. Lift your pelvis, then your low, middle and upper back into a ½ Wheel. Walk your shoulders underneath you so that you are standing on the top of your shoulder blades, the spine of the scapula. Avoid walking your shoulders closer to your feet as you bring them underneath which can flatten your neck and close your throat. Straighten your arms overhead along the floor, holding the strap taut with your hands as wide as your shoulders.
4. Arms to Ceiling
Lift your arms up to the ceiling with the strap in hand, staying on the top of your shoulders with your throat open. Your hands should be directly over your chest.
5. Slide Hands Wide
Keeping the strap taut slide your hands out, away from the center of the strap, until the strap touches your chest and your hands are down on the floor at shoulder level. The idea here is to maintain or increase the tone of your upper back muscles while you lower your arms.
6. Lower Spine
Come on down.
7. Not Only a Hamstring Stretch
Bring your right knee into your chest. Place the strap first on your
knee, then moving your hands closer to the middle of the strap put it onto the sole of your foot. Stretch your right leg up into the strap and your left leg down along the floor. Adjust your hands on the strap so that you can fully extend your arms and legs. Check it out – how are your shoulders and throat? While you are making this effort have a sense of ease in your body and breath.
8. the Letter C
Bend your right knee and lower your right leg along the floor. Both legs are stretched out straight now. Keep your hands on the strap stretching it firmly and place your hands on the floor over your head. Your hands will be a little wider you’re your shoulders now. Pick up your torso and move it to the right and place it down. In the process you may feel an opening along your left side. Notice your shoulder tension falling and your throat open again.