Shoulder & Neck Stretches (In A Chair)
Limitations : Do not practice if you suffer from chronic neck pain or have suffered from an injury to the disks in the neck.
How To Practice : Sitting with an erect spine, make gentle yes and no movements with the head. Then roll the head in circles from right to left and then left to right gently as to not put too much pressure on the cervical disks.
Raised Hands Pose (Urdvha Hastasana)
Limitations : Avoid raising arms too high if you have neck or shoulder issues.
Physical Benefits : Stretches the spine, shoulders, arm-pits and abdominals and opens the chest.
Therapeutic Benefits : Relieves back-ache, fatigue, asthma and anxiety
How To Practice: Bring straight arms up above the head, moving the shoulders away from the ears. Lower the trapezius muscles towards the shoulder-blades, the shoulder-blades towards the sacrum and coccyx, and the coccyx towards the pubic bone, feet hip width apart, keeping the abdomen soft. Take 3 breaths. Release.
Upward-Bound Fingers Pose (Urdhva Baddhanguliasana)
Limitations : Avoid if you have neck or shoulder injuries.
Physical Benefits : opens the chest, tones forearms, wrists and palms.
How To Practice : Clasp fingers together and again bring hands above head keeping the shoulders away from the ears and relaxing the trapezius muscles towards the shoulder blades and elongating the spine. Count 3 breaths and then come back down. Change the interlacing of your fingers. Bring the arms back up above the head, again trying to make as much space as possible between your ears and shoulders. Relax the trapezius muscles down towards the shoulder blades and the blades towards your coccyx, tummy relaxed. Count 3 breaths and come back down.
Now lean towards your knees, tummy resting on thighs if possible and clasp the fingers behind the back. Roll the shoulders backwards and bring your hands as far away from your back as possible- trying to pull them above your head and towards the floor. That’s alright, you’ll get there one day !
Stay for 3 breaths and come back . Repeat with the opposite finger interlacing .
Torso Twist (Bharadvajasana)
Limitations : to be avoided if you have high or low blood pressure, bronchitis, menstruation,diarrhea, headache or migraine. Take precaution if there is a history of disk, spine or hip problems or injuries.
Physical Benefits : reduces stiffness in neck and shoulders, relieves lower-back ache and sciatica. Supples the spinal muscles and relieves arthritis in lower back.
Therapeutic Benefits : Calms the nervous system and the mind. Great detox , stimulates organs, regulates metabolism and improves digestion.
How To Practice : Sit on the chair sideways against the back and hold the chair back with both hands, knee feet hip-width apart and knees aligned as much as possible. Keeping the spine erect, inhale and lift the spine even more and on the exhale rotating the torso and look over the right shoulder. Hold the posture for 5 breaths. Return and repeat on the other side.
Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
Justification : shoulder-blade stretch
Limitations : severe shoulder pain.
Physical Benefits : Lifts the chest upwards. Removes stiffness in shoulders. Stretches shoulder blades. Increases core strength. Corrects postural faults. Increases concentration and inspires calm.
Therapeutic Benefits : Opens the back thus good for asthma. If full posture is executed (standing), it releases the gluteal muscles and piriformis thus relieving sciatica. Opens the hips, thighs, calves and knees.
How To Practice : Begin by adducting the elbows and cross one over the other. Then cross the hands and press the fingers of the lower hand into the palm of the upper hand and try and aligne the thumbs as much as possible. If you unable to bring the hands into the position, simply cross the elbows and press them together. With time, flexibility will improve.
Try to straighten the elbows while resisting and feel how this activates the triceps, refining the adduction of the arms across the chest, squeeze the fingers into the palms activating the shoulder blades. Bring elbows up above the shoulders and stretch fingers towards the ceiling. Stay for 3-5 breaths and unwind arms. Repeat on other side.
Tips : (advanced) Forward fold and bring your elbows in front of your knees. Bring your thumbs to the third eye level.
Cow Face Posture (Gomukhasana)
Justification : Shoulder stretch
Limitations : severe shoulder pain
Physical Benefits : enlarges chest expansion, increases range of motion in shoulders.
Therapeutic Benefits : Shoulder joints move freely and latissimus dorsi is fully extended, relieves weight in the chest and prevents hunching forward. Corrects postural faults.
How To Practice : Draw a big circle with right arm and move right hand up between the shoulder blades. With the help of left hand nudge the right elbow towards the shoulder blades. Raise the left arm over the head and from the shoulder joint turn the arm inwards so that palm of hand faces backwards. Bend elbow and catch the two hands together or clasp a strap if the flexibility is not yet there. Stay for 3 breaths. Come back and repeat on other side.
Tips : Keep head in line with the spine and coccyx. Keep your gaze forward.
Extend both elbows away from each other and rotate both shoulders backwards without jutting the head out.