Moving Into Stillness with Erich Schiffmann
The Book, Sequences, Meditation
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A Few AsanasPrint View

Cat Pose, Mountain Pose, the "ten core poses" (Standing Forward Fold, Standing Side Stretch, Dog Pose, Spread Leg Forward Fold, Bridge Pose, Reclining Leg Stretch, Locust Pose, Sage Twist, Hero Pose, Shoulder Stretches) and the Lotus are presented here.  The other thirty-two poses I recommend can be found in my book.

Shoulder StretchesShoulder Stetch 1

The following eight shoulder stretches are excellent for loosening the shoulders and restoring lost movement to the whole upper body. Practice them daily for several weeks and notice the changes. You will need a long strap for the first three.

ONE

1 Sit in any comfortably erect position.  Clasp hold of the strap and straighten your arms.

2 As you inhale, sweep your arms forward and up until they are vertical, and exhale as you bring them down behind you. Inhale as you bring them up again, and exhale as you return to starting position. Go back and forth like this five times.

3 Coordinate this movement with your breathing, making the movement smooth. Make sure the strap is sufficiently long and your hands sufficiently far apart, so that you call keep your arms straight. If you cannot keep your arms straight, lengthen the strap.

4 The idea is to circumscribe as large a circle as possible with your hands as they go up and over. Therefore, at every given moment you are stretching outward through your arms in the direction they are pointing.

5 Bring your arms behind you. Keep the abdomen in, your chest expanded, and arms straight, and allow the stretch to penetrate for ten or fifteen seconds. Relax with the intensity as you run energy through the arm lines. Breathe smoothly. Then return to starting position.

TWO Shoulder Stretch 2

1 Shorten the strap so your hands are approximately twenty-four to thirty inches apart. Adjust the distance to suit your need.

2 Raise both arms up, bringing the right arm alongside the ear, and swivel the left arm around and down behind you.  

3 Inhale as you energize upward through the right arm, and exhale as you reach outward through the left arm and pull down with the hand. This is a fantastic stretch. Breathe smoothly and create the degree of intensity you find pleasurable. Be here several breaths, then change sides.

THREEShoulder Stretch 3

1 Shorten the strap until your arms are parallel with one another and your hands are shoulder-width apart. Pull outward with your hands until the strap is taut.

2 Take your arms up. Get as long as you can from your navel to your hands. Be here a few moments.

3 Slowly bend your arms. Pull hard on the belt as you slowly bring it down behind your head until it touches the back of your neck. Keep the abdominals in, your chest lifted, and firmly squeeze the elbows backward - and continue pulling the strap taut. Then slowly take the strap back up again, straightening the arms. Try to feel every subtle change of sensation. Do not be surprised if the strap starts jiggling. It's a long way up. This is more difficult than you'd think. Do this several times, then release the strap.

FOURShoulder Stretch 4

1 Clasp your hands behind you, straighten your arms, then lift your hands as high as you can. Roll the shoulders backward, gently squeezing the shoulder blades together, and expand your chest by lifting it up and pressing it forward. Pull straight backward through your arms in the direction they are pointing. Be here several breaths.

2 Bring your interlaced hands to the left side of your waist. Pull the abdominals in and lift the chest, then roll both shoulders backward as you squeeze the elbows inward toward one another and press forward with your hands. Breathe deeply and expand your chest, deliberately pressing it forward through the shoulders. Be here several breaths, then change sides.

FIVE Shoulder Stretch 5

1 Stretch the left arm straight up, then bend your elbow and bring your hand down behind your back. Clasp the left elbow with your right hand. Find the groove of your spine with your left fingertips.

2 Keeping your abdomen in, backward toward the spine, and your chest lifting and expanded, use your right hand to pull the left elbow behind your head. Maneuver your fingertips down the groove of the spine, gently squeeze the right elbow comfortably far backward, and allow the stretch to penetrate for half a minute. Breathe smoothly. Change sides.

SIX Shoulder Stretch 6

1 Place the back of your right hand on your lower back, then wriggle it up your back as far as it will comfortably go. Pause here, acclimatize for a moment, then wriggle it farther up.

2 Stretch the left arm straight up, bend your elbow so your hand comes down behind your back, and clasp your hands. Move the left elbow away from your head and elevate your chin slightly. Stretch straight up, into the left elbow, straight down into the right elbow, and attempt to move both elbows baackward - chest up, shoulder blades down, navel backward toward the spine. Be here half a minute, breathing smoothly, then switch sides.

SEVENShoulder Stretch 7

1 Entwine your arms and bring your palms together (photo 10). Turn your palms until they are straight. Be here half a minute, then entwine them with the other arm on top. 

EIGHT

1 Bring your hands into prayer position behind your back. Start with your fingertips together, pointing down, then turn your hands inward and bring them up into prayer position.

2 Bring the abdominals in, lift and expand the chest, then roll the shoulders backward. Move the elbows backward so the shoulder blades flatten into your back, and gently press your palms together. Wriggle your hands higher when you can. The higher you get them, the more comfortable this will be. Be here several breaths.

Benefits: Shoulder Stretches

Increase range of motion in shoulders. Release tension in arms, shoulders, chest, upper back, and neck.  Strengthen arms.  Excellent for those with rounded shoulders, collapsed chest, tense neck.

Cat Pose, Mountain Pose, Standing Forward Fold, Standing Side Stretch, Dog Pose, Spread Leg Forward Fold, Bridge Pose, Reclining Leg Stretch, Locust Pose, Sage Twist, Hero Pose, Shoulder Stretches, Lotus

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