Snowga to Keep Your Shoulders—and Yourself—Happy
Snowga to Keep Your Shoulders—and Yourself—Happy
Ah… classic March. They say it goes in like a lion and out like a lamb. When the snow falls heavily, we’re forced inside: a rare opportunity to kick back, relax and reconnect with our family. It’s all fun and games until three hours goes by and you’re at each other’s throats. There aren’t enough TVs in the house to keep everyone occupied, and there isn’t yet enough snow to resurrect your backyard Frosty the Snowman.
Whether you’re shoveling, throwing snowballs or managing household chaos, what you really need on a snow day is a good shoulder-opening yoga class. Since you can’t quite make it to the yoga studio, PFY Marketing and Social Media Manager Michael Simpson wrote down one of his quick 20-minute sequences. You’ll open your shoulders, stretch your hamstrings and create space in your lower back. Do this sequence to bring some joy back into your snow day.
Baddhanguliyasana (Bound Finger Pose)
Begin in tadasana (Mountain Pose) with your hands in prayer. Interlace your fingers and press your palms forward. On an inhale, lift your arms above your head. Press down through your feet as your press your palms up toward the ceiling. Hold here for 5 slow breaths keeping your chin level and gaze forward.
Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
Release your arms and now interlace your fingers behind your back. Soften your knees and fold forward with a long spine. Keep your fingers interlaced and your elbows soft, and gently press forward through your pinky fingers.
Release your fingers to the floor, step back to Plank Pose and lower all the way onto your belly.
Salamba Bhujangasana (Sphinx Pose)
Prop yourself onto your forearms. Align your shoulders directly on top of your elbows. Gently press back through your elbows and imagine dragging your belly button forward through your arms. You should feel a stretch through the front of your body, and some healthy compression in your lower back. Stay here for a few moments and allow the intensity of the pose to build as you breathe deeply. To release the pose, stack one palm on top of the other and rest your forehead on the back of your hand.
From your belly, gently slide back toward a wide-legged variation of Child’s Pose.
Balasana (Child’s Pose)
Bring your toes to touch and come to sit on top of your heels. Take your knees as wide as you comfortably can. Keep your buttocks close to your heels and begin to fold forward with a long spine. Walk your fingertips forward until your elbows lift off the mat. Hold here for five to seven breaths.
From child’s pose come onto all fours into a tabletop position. Warm up your spine with five to seven rounds of cat/cow.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
From cow pose, walk your knees approximately four to six inches behind your hips. Cup your armpits back so your elbow creases turn more forward. Maintain the rotation in your arms as you lift your hips up and back. Lift your heels high, soften your knees and rotate the bottom of your pelvis upward. Press the floor away with your palms and create more space in your lower back.
From Downward Facing Dog, roll into and out of Plank pose three times linking movement with breath.
Phalakasana (Plank Pose)
Stay in your third Plank Pose for three to five breaths to strengthen the muscles that support your shoulder joints. Focus on pressing the floor away with your palms to engage your triceps, serratus anterior and pectoral muscles. At the same time, find the balanced action by imagining you were lifting the floor up with your hands. Continue to focus on the external rotation of your upper arms.
Lift back to Downward Facing Dog and prepare for Warrior 1. If you like a more active practice, you could move through a few rounds of Surya Namaskara A or B here.
Step your right foot between your thumbs. Step your back foot in a baby step and spin your heel down 30 to 45 degrees. Walk your right foot a little further out to the right to create more space in your hips. Root down through your feet and reach your arms overhead for Warrior 1.
Baddha Virabhadrasana with Garudasana Arms (Humble Warrior with Eagle Arms)
From Warrior 1, wrap your left arm underneath your right arm. Then, press the palms together if your body allows or hold onto opposite shoulder. As you inhale, press forward through your elbows and shoulders to slightly round your upper back. Maintain your Warrior 1 legs as you begin to bow forward, sliding your right shoulder inside your right knee. The roundness in your upper back will help you stretch the back side of your shoulders, including the posterior deltoids, rhomboids and some rotator cuff muscles.
Lift back up to Warrior 1, unwind your arms and enjoy the expansiveness of your next inhalation. Then, release your hands to the floor to prepare for Pyramid Pose.
Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch or Pyramid Pose)
Step your back foot a couple of inches forward (not too much!) and anchor down through your back heel. Come to stand with your hands on your hips. Straighten your front leg but maintain subtle softness behind your knee.
Reach your fingertips forward at shoulder-height and internally rotate your upper arms. You’ll turn your thumbs down so your palms are facing away from each other. Maintain internal rotation as you bring your arms wide and around your back. Either press your hands together in prayer or hold onto opposite elbow. As you inhale, gently lift and broaden your chest. Then, fold forward as far as your exhalation takes you. Continue to lengthen your spine forward with every breath in, and gently fold toward your front leg with every breath out.
Release your hands to the floor and step forward. Inhale to halfway lift and step back to Downward Facing Dog as you exhale. Repeat the sequence on the left side.
After Pyramid on the left side, step forward and come to sit in Dandasana (Staff Pose) with your legs extended in front of you.
Purvottanasana (Intense Eastern Stretch or Upward Plank Pose)
From Dandasana, walk your hands approximately eight to twelve inches behind your hips with fingertips facing forward. Bend your knees, point your toes inward and place your heels at least a foot way away from your buttocks. Root down through your hands and feet, and lift your torso and thighs until they are perpendicular to the floor. Maintain the height of your hips as you slowly straighten one leg at a time.
Release Upward Plank Pose and pause for a moment in Dandasana. Then, lie down on your back and relax for three to five minutes in Savasana before you binge-watch a new Netflix series.