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Yoga For The Arms and Shoulders


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The Gate

Focus: Shoulders

Level: Beginner

Total Time: 30 to 60 seconds

Indications: energizes lungs and abdomen

Contraindications: modification for a knee injury

The Gate

The Gate

The gate focuses on opening your shoulders while simultaneously stretching your spine, hamstrings and the sides of your body. It also energizes your lungs and abdominal organs. Individuals with a knee injury should perform
this poses while sitting on a chair.

Begin by kneeling on the ground. Straighten your right leg, extending it out to the right and press your foot, both toes, and heel, against the ground. Your right knee and ankle should be facing straight up, aligned with the top of your leg. Slightly rotate your abdomen to the right while moving your upper body to the left.

Breathe in and extend your arms out to your sides. Bend your body over your right leg and rest your right hand as far down your leg as possible. The right side of your torso will be compressed while you will be stretching the left side.

Place your left hand on your left hip and push your abdomen down into the ground. Move your left hand to your lower left rib cage and push it up toward your shoulders.

Inhale as you stretch your left arm over your head to the right. Allow your left hip to slightly roll forward but stretch your upper body away from the ground.

Stay in this position for 30 to 60 seconds. To release yourself from this pose, breathe in and raise your torso back up straight through your top arm. Return your right leg to its original position.

Rest a moment, then repeat the process to the left.

The Handstand

Focus: Shoulders

Level: Advanced

Total Time: 10 seconds or longer, depending on experience level

Indications: depression, anxiety

Contraindications: neck, back, or shoulder injury, headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, pregnancy

  • The Forearm Stand

The forearm stand is the prerequisite to holding a handstand. It builds strength in your shoulders, wrists, and arms while stretching your stomach. A forearm stand can enhance your balance and is believed to be effective in treating depression and anxiety. If you have ever experienced a neck, back or shoulder injury, you should avoid this pose. Likewise, individuals who suffer from headaches, high blood pressure, heart conditions and who are menstruating should approach with caution. Pregnant women should forego this pose entirely.

The forearm stand is an advanced inversion. It requires serious strength in your hands, arms, and shoulders. Before you take it on, you should be able to perform the following:

Downward-facing dog.

Dolphin plank.

Crow.

Headstand.

Eight-angle pose.

Firefly.

Once you have mastered the above poses, you should have the strength to tackle the forearm stand.

Start from the downward-facing dog. Stand on your hands and knees with your shoulders directly above your hands and your hips above your knees. Press your hips straight up until both legs and arms are straight. Let your neck continue the straight line of your back from hips to head. Breathe deeply and slowly.

Lower your forearms to the ground. Splay your fingers apart and press them into the ground. You will use your fingers to provide balance when you go into the handstand, so begin to use them now. Tighten your shoulder blades, pulling them together and then toward your tailbone.

Step your left leg forward, bending your left knee and flexing your right foot. Push up to raise your hips and torso until your torso is straight above your shoulders.


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Raise your legs until they are straight and vertical, in line with the rest of your body.

Enlist in your core stomach muscles to help keep your hips over
your shoulders. If your groin or armpits feel stiff, you can elongate your lower back by pulling the front of your ribs into your body and stretching your tailbone into the soles of your feet.

Press your legs together and rotate your thighs inward. Allow your head to hang between your shoulders and stare straight ahead.

Stay in this position for 10 seconds at first. Over time, you can work your way up to a maximum of 60 seconds. Continue to breathe deeply, slowly, and steadily, as you maintain this pose.

To release this position, breathe out and lower the first one leg, then the other. Keep your chest raised and your shoulder blades separated as you bring down your legs.

Stand in a forward bend for 30 seconds before you slowly raise your torso to an upright position, one vertebra at a time.

If you cannot get yourself completely upside down, that’s okay. Continue to practice the strength-building poses that will eventually provide you with enough power to support and balance your body.

The Firefly

Focus: Arms

Level: Advanced

Total Time: 15 to 30 seconds

Indications: stress, anxiety

Contraindications: injury to shoulder, wrist, elbow, lower back

The Firefly


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The firefly helps build strength in your arms and wrists while stretching your groin and the back. It can also tone your stomach and enhance your balance. If you suffer from shoulder, wrist, elbow or lower back injuries then you should avoid this pose. Beginners can make this pose easier by sitting on the ground, positioning your legs at 90-degree angles and using yoga blocks to raise each heel.

Begin by squatting with your feet a little less than shoulder-width apart. Tilt your abdomen forward and bend your torso down to hang between your legs. Keeping your body low, bend your legs until your abdomen is level with your knees.

Move your left upper arm and shoulder as far as you can under your left thigh above your knee, placing your hand just to the outside of your foot. Your fingers should point forward. Do the same with your right upper arm.

Raise your body off the ground, by shifting your center of gravity. Push your hands into the ground and gently roll your weight off your feet onto your hands. Your inner thighs should remain as high up your arms as possible.

Inhale, extend your legs to the sides as straight as possible while keeping your abdomen high, so that your legs are parallel to the ground. Push through the bottom of your big toes while pulling and spreading your toes toward your body. Tilt the inner edges of your feet forward slightly while keeping the outer edges back.

Straighten your arms and widen your shoulder blades to hollow your chest. Raise your head and look into the distance. Take slow breaths and stay in this position for 15 to 30 seconds. Then, release your feet to the ground as you exhale.

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