Day Ten SFY Mindful May Challenge – Shoulder and QL (Quadratus Lumborum) stretch #SFYMindfulMay

day10-shouldersDay 10 –  On your knees with a cushion, or sitting in a chair, start holding a strap wider than your shoulders above your head, reach up from your tailbone with a long spine and neutral pelvis, then lean to the right with straight arms.  Keep slight tension on the strap with a loose grip in the hands.  Keep length in both sides of the waist as you inhale length in the spine, then exhale leaning to the right continuing to gently pull on the strap with straight arms.

Choose a comfortable position for your neck with your shoulders softened down from your ears, allowing for space on both sides of your neck. Either gaze up towards your top hand or straight ahead.  Continue this stretch for five breaths being mindful to breathe through the lenghtening and release through the shoulder and the QL (quadratus lumborum).

You may feel this stretch all the way from the outside of your left leg (IT band), up through the waist (the QL), near the armpit (the lattisimus dorsi), the outside of the arm (the tricep) and to the wrist.  Breathe slowly and avoid collapsing into the right waist; keep the right side long.  Keep the muscles in the face and your gaze soft.  Invite the softening and lengthening throughout your side body.

After your fifth exhale, inhale back to center with your arms evenly above your head, connect to your long spine and neutral pelvis, then exhale to repeat this stretch leaning towards the left side.  Continue lengthening and reaching for five breaths.  Keep the arms straight and long, gently keeping tension on your strap, and keeping space on both sides of your waist, and both sides of your long neck. Keep your shoulders down from your ears.  Continue breathing slowly, inhaling and exhaling through the nostrils, and keep your face and gaze soft.

After your fifth exhale, inhale back to center, gently drop the strap then close your eyes, sit back on your heels, set your hands on your thighs, breathe and feel what you feel.  Repeat one more set on each side.  With each breath, keep that spine long and feel the expansion in your rib cage on both sides, into your back, and under your collarbones.  With each inhale, keep the shoulders down from the ears.

Enjoy the openness in your shoulders and back.  Notice how this pose creates space in your abdomen and invites expansion for your breath.  Sigh and smile.   Namaste…

Yogamama Meels

Day Nine SFY Mindful May Challenge – Prasarita with shoulder opener #SFYMindfulMay

day9-shouldersday9-shoulders-2Day 9 –  Start standing in prasarita, wide-legged foward fold, and clasp your hands behind your back or grab a strap, gently pulling the strap apart about shoulder width. Breathe your heart open, shoulders down, root down into your tadasana legs and feet, then hinge at the hips, folding forward with a long spine.  Let your arms or strap come away from your body towards the ground.  Hold for five breaths, gently squeezing the shoulder blades together.  Keep the neck long with the shoulders down from the ears.

Photo note: to take these photos I set up my self-timer on my Nikon D7000.  Unfortunately, my blooper was not caught on camera.  In the bottom photo where I was reaching my arms towards the ground, my wrists reached Paco’s back and I completely somersaulted and landed on top of him…which he loved! LOL

Yogamama Meels

Day Five SFY Mindful May Challenge – Shoulder opener with a strap

day5-shouldersDay 5 – grab a strap, gently pulling the strap apart to create some tension as you bring the strap behind your back. Breathe through the sticky spots as you stretch through your shoulder joints. Softly engage your core and adjust your tailbone to avoid overarching your lower back. Bring the hands closer on the strap with each rep as your shoulders open up. Be mindful of your posture and keeping your arms straight as you bring the strap above and behind your back. Do this pose “standing” on your knees, or release tension in the arches of your feet by tucking the toes, sitting on your heels and coming into a toe squat. Do as many reps as you like…enjoy!

Yogamama Meels

Day Two SFY Mindful May Challenge – Shoulders

day2-cowfacepose-blogBecause of a recently diagnosed frozen shoulder and my awareness of so many of my yoga students reporting shoulder tightness and pain, I am committing to extra TLC for shoulders!  Right now I can’t grasp my fingers but, with the help of a strap I am reaching towards clasping them again!

Hold the pose on each side for 5 breaths, slowly reaching your fingers of each hand towards each other, and gently pulling the strap using the top hand, helping the bottom hand reach up the back.  Repeat on the other side, then repeat both sides again to complete two full sets.

Remember to breathe and post your progress on this month’s #SFYMindfulMay instagram challenge!

Here’s to happy, free shoulders!

Yogamama Meels