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Shoulder stiffness releasing pose

Kati Chakrasana (waist rotating pose) is a deceptively simple asana that is great to do first thing in the morning as it releases stiffness in the shoulders and back and also helps to correct poor posture.

Kati Chakrasana
Technique

Stand with the feet shoulder width apart. Raise the arms to shoulder level and twist the torso to the right, keeping the hips facing forward. Bring the left hand to rest on the right shoulder and wrap the right hand around your back into the curve of the waist. Look over your right shoulder as far as is comfortable. Gently accentuate the twist by stretching the abdomen. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. You can do this pose any time throughout the day to relieve any build up of upper body tension, especially if you sit a lot or work on computers for longer periods.


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 Respect yourself, explore yourself.

 

Stand Tall

walk tallHow often did you hear as a child growing up, “Stand up. Pull your shoulders back!” Put your shoulders back. That’s how we were told to correct our posture. It’s the posture of the fluffy-hatted guards outside Buckingham Palace, it’s the posture of ballerinas and princes, of anyone carrying a gun. But it is actually only half the picture.

Try an experiment. Stand up and pull your shoulders back.

What just happened? Are you actually standing straighter, or are your shoulders just forced a bit backwards and, if you’re a woman, your boobs are sticking out in a rather awkward manner.

If you stand straight and pull back your shoulders to correct your posture, one thing is sure to happen. Your shoulders will go backwards! But your posture will remain exactly as before. This is because good posture has little to nothing to do with shoulders moving back, but everything to do with how we hold our backs. In yoga, there is a lot of emphasis on strengthening the back muscles, and good posture is the result of using this strength wisely.

Try the experiment again. This time forget the shoulders. Imagine they don’t even exist. Instead, lift up from an area around the mid-back and continue this lifting motion all the way up through the upper back. What you’ll find is, as you lift up your back, your shoulders will just naturally roll back a little as a result, and you will feel as if you have grown an inch or two. There you have it, the posture of a Buckingham Palace guard, without the drill sergeant!

 

What is your back leg?

I recall the moment when I made the connection between yoga and life. I was completing my training in Rishikesh, India. We were practicing Warrior Pose, a position that develops strength and balance in the legs. My teacher said:

“A strong back leg is your good friend. What are your strengths? What is your back leg?”

Yoga can benefit anyone. But as a mature woman who recently discovered this path, I find the benefits all the more available to those with life experience. As my teacher would say, “Yoga is not exercise. It is a path for how to live your life.”

Conserving our energy



The idea behind yoga is to exert the least effort for the maximum effect. The best progress is made without too much force or tension, when we relax into whatever it is that we are doing.

Respecting our present limitations

It is extremely important in yoga, as in life, to discover and respect our present limitations. From that point, we can then explore them and see that they are not fixed boundaries.

A little Challenge is good

As we explore our limitations in yoga we find that they shift and widen. In the same way, in our lives, we find that, through practice and effort, something we once thought was beyond our capacity becomes gradually easier.

Adjustment is important

In life, as in yoga, we may be tempted to give something up because it doesn’t seem to be working. Sometimes a few minor adjustments in our pose—or in our life—can make all the difference.

Breathe!

Much of yoga practice concerns how to use the breath. Breathing is so simple and natural, and brings us back to the present moment. Yoga teaches us to breathe no matter what is going on.