Cover photo: Fiona Peters
How do we get tight?
Simple. Because we spend most of our time with our shoulders rounded forward and our chest collapsed. Think of all the activities we do in this position:
- working at a computer
- scrolling on our phones
- riding a bike
- driving a car
- picking things up
- putting things down
In time, our bodies are so smart that they optimise for this posture, restricting full range of motion because we require it so rarely. (Unless we have an awesome yoga practice with lots of backbends.)
Here are 3 poses you can do every day to start to release tightness in the chest and loosen up your shoulders. Hold each of them for 3-5 minutes. More if you can bear it.
1. Reclining Butterfly
Lie back on several cushions or pillows and let your arms fall out to the sides. If you also want to work on opening up your hips, you can bring your feet together in the shape of a diamond and rest your knees on cushions.
Stay in the pose for 3-5 minutes, allowing the weight of your arms to gently stretch your chest and the fronts of your shoulders. Breathe in and out though your nose, inhaling for 4 and exhaling for 8.
2. Puppy With Hands In Reverse Prayer
Come to all fours. Bring your elbows down to rest on blocks or a pillow and your palms together in reverse prayer. Check that your hips are directly over your knees.
Stay in the pose for 3-5 minutes, drawing your hips back to feel a deep stretch in your chest and shoulders.
3. Prone Twisted Scorpion
Lie face down on your belly with your hands underneath your shoulders. Bring your right arm straight out to the side, palm facing down. Bend your left leg and press into your left hand to twist your body open to the left. Bring your left foot flat to the mat behind your right leg. Let the weight of your left knee increase the intensity of the twist. If your neck is uncomfortable, you can rest your head on a cushion.
Hold the pose for 3-5 minutes. This stretch is super intense so when you’re ready, carefully release the pose and switch sides.
You can find more routines to increase your flexibility in the Yoga 15 Flexibility series, available to download on Vimeo. Here is the link:
Photos: Paul Baker