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Aiming for Flexible Shoulders

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— July 15, 2017

Aiming for Flexible Shoulders

  • Bow is a really great pose for getting your shoulders and chest loosened up (along with the front of your hips) before you hit the pool or the waves. It also helps strengthen your upper back, letting you swim with better form.
pocket

Pose: Bow

(Dhanurasana)

Why You Should Do It: Bow is a really great pose for getting your shoulders and chest loosened up (along with the front of your hips) before you hit the pool or the waves. It also helps strengthen your upper back, letting you swim with better form. In addition, stringing your Bow will help:

  • Ease fatigue, anxiety and mild backache.
  • Relieve menstrual cramping.
  • Gently massage your inner organs.
  • Improve your posture.

How to Do It: Lie on your stomach (using a folded blanket for comfort, if you want) with your arms lying along your sides, palms up. Then:

  • Exhale and bend your knees like you’re leaving footprints on the ceiling; bring your heels as close to your torso as possible. Reach back and grab your ankles (not the tops of your feet).
  • Inhale and lift your heels back while lifting your thighs. This will lift your upper body off the mat; press your shoulder blades toward each other while keeping the tops of your shoulders away from your ears. Look forward.
  • Stay in the pose from 20 to 30 seconds; keep breathing. Exhale while releasing, and lie quietly for several breaths.

Note: Can’t reach your ankles? Either just reach back as far as you can or use a strap wrapped around the front of your ankles while holding the ends.

Variations: You can make Bow more difficult by having your thighs, calves and inner feet touch. Or you can really take things to the next level by exhaling and dropping your right shoulder towards the floor while tugging on your left heel; this will bring you onto your right side. Stay there for 20 to 30 seconds before exhaling, rolling across your stomach and onto your left side for the same amount of time; roll back onto your belly before coming out of the pose.

Be Careful If: Pregnant women or people with either blood pressure problems or migraines shouldn’t do this one. Ditto anyone with a serious neck or lower back injury

Using Yoga to Help Girls at Risk
Kids who wind up in the juvenile justice system tend to have experienced a lot of trauma in their young lives. That’s especially true of girls, who are often dealing with the after-effects of sexual violence and other forms of abuse. A new report indicates that yoga may help these girls move past problems such as depression and to become more self-confident and resilient. Gender & Trauma, released by Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality (law.georgetown.edu), drew its conclusions in part from the results of pilot studies in Connecticut and Pennsylvania based on an idea called Trauma-Sensitive Yoga, in which mindfulness, regulated breathing and yoga poses were used to help girls develop greater self-esteem, better physical well-being, and healthier relationships, among other benefits. “Girls were reporting they didn’t get into fights, they were able to take a breath before they reacted,” says Thalia González, JD, one of the study’s co-authors. ” We saw less self-reported depression, an increase in girls viewing themselves in a fundamentally more positive way.” Participants were also able to deal with the juvenile justice system more effectively. One young woman, who became a yoga instructor herself, was quoted in the report: “I was always an angry person and I used to do the breathing…it made me watch the words that I use, and how to think before I jump into action.” González wants Trauma-Sensitive Yoga to be used more widely across the country. “It’s really about scaling this up,” she says. “This works—it is really cost-effective.”
Yoga for All Kids
Yoga has shown benefits for all children, including the potential to boost grades, lessen anxiety, promote greater strength and flexibility, and improve confidence. In fact, medical professionals have recommended this ancient practice to youngsters for disorders such as asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic pain, and skin conditions.
Specific poses are helpful for specific concerns. Kristin McGee, a New York City-based yoga teacher and personal trainer, suggests:
•Downward dog to aid circulation, particularly to the face and skin
•Camel to help with breathing and circulation
•Tree for greater concentration and balance
Beauty on the Mat
Maybe you’ve seen the toned, lithe people in yoga magazines and retreat websites and thought, “I could never be that thin/flexible/yoga-ish looking if I tried. Yoga might not be for me.” Just. Stop. Now. “I wrote this book for every person who has called themselves ugly,” says yoga teacher Jessamyn Stanley in Every Body Yoga (Workman). As her nearly 300,000 Instagram followers (mynameisjessamyn) could tell you, Stanley—”the epitome of a big, black and beautiful African queen”—is nobody’s idea of a typical yogini. She’s fine with that, and she believes that you shouldn’t let your appearance stop you from taking to the mat as well. In Every Body Yoga, Stanley shows yoga newbies the ropes, which include picking a style and buying gear, in no-nonsense prose; one chapter is titled “What the F–k is the EightLimbed Path?” Most of the book presents asana, or poses, both basic moves and pose sequences designed to address needs such as finding better balance or greater spiritual energy. One sequence, I Need to Release Fear, comes from a chapter in which Stanley writes, “Bad self-esteem and body shame know no size. What makes the difference is how we choose to handle our self-esteem issues.” Every Body Yoga advocates approaching your practice, no matter what you look like, from a place of strength and joy

 

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