MOVEMENT

5 MINUTES FOR HEART OPENERS

Cobra pose
Sphinx pose
Hero pose
Hero pose

Like most people, I spend a lot of my time in front of a screen.  If I have spent most of the previous day hunched over a screen or desk, I know immediately the next morning because my shoulders and upper back are sore and stiff.  I also find that, throughout the day, the tension in these areas builds and, when I do finally make it my mat, back bends or heart openers are almost impossible.

I find the best way to sequence a yoga class is to find a perfect balances between opposing movements. In this case, during my day, a lot of the movement I typically do is forward and chest compressing movement. I wanted to create a quick sequence that not only helps counter all the forward motion but also works to open my torso and loosen my spine. I wanted something that was relatively quick and could be done throughout the day, particularly whenever I noticed myself hunching or feeling strain in my upper body.

I like to do this during my lunch hour or if I’m feeling particularly sore in my upper body and neck. It can be done by itself or paired with other movement. This quick sequence can be completed anywhere, although I would recommend a mat and any other props you feel most comfortable with.

Below, I have both pictures and text detailing the poses, as well as a quick video demonstrating the sequence. The video had been sped up.

Sequence

Begin in table position, hands stacked under shoulders, knees stacked under hips, and long spine. Inhale and lift the chin and pelvis, arch the spine. Exhale release the chin to chest, drop the pelvis and round the back. Cat cow sequence. Repeat 3 times

Cow pose
Cow pose
Cat pose

Shift the hips back to sit on the heels and inhale lift arms overhead. Exhale right hand finds the left thigh, left hands drops to the mat, gaze over the left shoulder. Inhale to unwind and lift back to center. Exhale, repeat on the right side.  Repeat twice, keeping length through the spine and neck. Twisting hero pose.

Left twist
Twisting hero pose
Right twist
Twisting hero pose

Walk the hands forward and slide on to the belly. Stack the elbows under the shoulders, forearms stretched in front and parallel to each other. Inhale, begin to press evenly through the forearms and lift the chest, opening the shoulders, and keeping a long spine. Hold for 1 breath then exhale and release the torso back to the mat. Sphinx pose. Repeat twice with breath.

Cobra prep
Sphinx pose prep
Cobra pose
Sphinx pose

Come into a table position again, hands a few inches in front of the shoulders.  Keep the knees slightly bent and begin to press the hips up and back. Downward facing dog. Peddle the feet here, if you like, and stretch out the hamstrings.  

Downward facing dog
Downward facing dog

Drop the knees to the mat and step the right foot out the side, leg long. Inhale, lift the torso, shoulders stack over hips, arms lift to a T. Exhale right hand slides down the right leg, left arm arches overhead. Gate pose. Inhale to lift back to center. Exhale left hand finds the mat or a block. Reach right arm overhead, creating a long line from right foot through right hand. Reverse Gate pose.

Gate pose
Gate pose
Reverse gate pose
Reverse gate pose

Inhale to lift back to center.  Come into a table position again, hands a few inches in front of the shoulders.  Keep the knees slightly bent and begin to press the hips up and back. Downward facing dog. Peddled the feet here, if you like, and stretch out the hamstrings. 

Downward facing dog
Downward facing dog

Drop the knees to the mat and step the right foot out the side, leg long. Inhale, lift the torso, shoulders stack over hips, arms lift to a T. Exhale right hand slides down the right leg, left arm arches overhead. Gate pose. Inhale to lift back to center. Exhale left hand finds the mat or a block. Reach right arm overhead, creating a long line from right foot through right hand. Reverse Gate pose.

Gate pose
Gate pose
Reverse gate pose
Reverse gate pose

Inhale lift back to center. Re-stack knees under hips and sit back on the heels.

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