“Relaxing the shoulders is vital for relaxation in general. However, owing to the effects of gravity, relaxation is problematic unless we let the shoulders remain in their natural place. Let the shoulders drop, or settle in harmony with gravity, into their most comfortable position. It isn’t too difficult to do this for a moment, but to sustain this condition unconsciously in our lives is another matter. We raise our shoulders unnaturally when we lean on a desk or hold the telephone between our shoulders and ears, when we are shocked by a loud noise, and who knows how many other times throughout the day. And the unsettling of the shoulders doesn’t have to be large to produce anxiety, stiff necks, and headaches. Just slightly raising them will create tension, and this tension throws the nervous system out of balance.
When do we raise the shoulders in daily life? What are we feeling at that moment and leading up to that moment? Remembering that the body reflects the mind, and that the raising of the shoulders not only creates tension but also is a physical manifestation of psychological tension itself, what are the roots of this tension? Bringing the mind into the moment, let’s observe ourselves in a state free of preconceived ideas or beliefs. Don’t guess at these questions. Observe yourself in relationship to others and the universe”
― H.E. Davey,
That quote is a great read! How often do you feel that the whole world is standing on your shoulders? I have worked on a stressful desk job combined with non-stop life situations and I am sure my tension goes on a direct highway to my neck and shoulders.
If you have practiced yin yoga with me for a while, you probably know the sequence below. This post is a reminder of the sequence and you should follow a guidance of a teacher prior to practicing this alone, just so you know any alternatives and options, as I am not diving deep into these in this post.
So release those shoulders and relax. 🙂
Remember yin yoga does not require a specific alignment, thus the images below should not be a guidance on how you will look in a pose! You should previously have a regular practice with a teacher to follow this sequence and you should take a modification of a pose that is suitable for you! I recommend to attend Yin yoga classes prior to practicing the sequence, so you learn to modify according to your body and current state.
Start with an awareness meditation, sit still on a comfortable position. Scan though your physical body, make sure you are comfortable, then come to notice any sounds or sensations from the surrounding environment – allow all the world around you to continue to twirl and not disturb you during your practice. Come back to your Self – connect with any emotions or thoughts in your head, notice how you feel and slowly bring the attention to your breath – keep the focus on simple inhales and exhales. Drawing the attention to the point on your upper lip just below the nostrils – calm the mind and just focus on the sensations of the breath.
Sphinx pose: 3-5 minutes
Lie down on your belly. Clasp your elbows with the opposite hands and move the elbows just ahead of your shoulders, propping yourself up. Notice how this feels in your lower back. If the sensations are too strong, move your elbows further ahead, lowering your chest closer to the floor. If you like, you can place your palms flat on the floor in front of you like a sphinx.
Rebound suggestion – on the belly, child’s pose
After 3 minutes only if you find space in physical body move to Seal – straighten the arms, press palms to the ground, walk your hands in if you want to deepen. Take caution and care, if you moved in to fast – move out carefully.
Open Wing: 3-5 minutes each side
Lie down to the side of the mat, lengthen the right arm out to the side, press the other hand to the floor and gently roll on the right arm, so your shoulder opens. Legs can stay both bent in-front of you or you can bend one leg and place to foot to the floor as you can se on the picture. Take care with the lengthened arm, if you notice any tingling or numbing sensations in the arm, move slightly out and soften the pose. Do the pose on both sides.
Rebound suggestion: lie on the belly
Broken Wings: 3-5 minutes each side
Right arm feeds though in-front of the chest and then the left, move your fingers as far as you can from one another. Choose to rest your chin or forehead on a block or pillow or floor. Notice any sensations in your upper back, shoulder area or even triceps on the side of the arm. Don’t forget to do both sides.
Rebound suggestion: lie on the belly or on the back
Childs pose or Anahatasana: 3-5 minutes
The melting heart pose will work with you upper and mid back and your shoulders. To move in to the pose go on your hands and knees (if you prefer child’s pose, sink your hips to your heels), walk your hands forward, allowing your chest to drop toward the floor. Keep your hips right above your knees. If possible, keep your hands shoulder width apart.
Rebound suggestion: lie on your back
Half Namaste Back pose: 3-5 minutes
Place your right arm behind the back, top of the palm toward the back, place the palm as high up or down making sure, your shoulder is relaxed – relax your shoulder. Lie down on your arm, palm facing down as you can see from the photos. Stay relaxed in a comfortable leg position, you can also lift the second arm over the head and reach the fingers towards the right fingers, but don’t worry about grasping on to them just relax and lengthen the heart-centre diagonally across the chest working with the rotation of the shoulder. Make sure your upper body can relax. Remember to practice both sides.
Rebound suggestion: lie on the back
Heart Opening: 5 minutes
We have worked the shoulders in every direction, to start the relaxation, we will take one more pose to open the upper back and front body. I have used a rolled up pillow in this pose, if you have a bolster, you can use a bolster. Place your prop underneath your upper back, just about in-between the scapula (wing bones) or more or less where your bra line runs for women. Then lie down so you feel the upper back softly curving and your front body opening.
Finish the practice with 5+ minutes of Shavasana. Lie down on the mat, place a blanket over you or maybe pillows or bolster under your knees to rest your lower back on the ground. Take time to relax every part of the body and stay awake and observe.
I hope you enjoy the sequence ❤