Basic Practice: Strengthening the Back of the Armpits

In this practice the goal is to strengthen the sides of the body, rather than push from the chest or pinch the shoulder blades together. In all the poses, keep the upper back and chest equally wide. Strengthen the triceps and outer edge of the shoulder blade/armpit area by doing the following:
  • Move the shoulder blades down the back, away from the head.
  • Move them forward, onto the back, while widening the ribs into them, creating strength in the outer armpit.
  • In poses with the arms out to the side or by the head, allow the shoulder blades to move with the arms.
  • In poses with the arms behind the back--Purvottanasana (Intense East Stretch Pose), Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) and Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)--move the shoulder blades towards the chest and away from the upper arms, softening and widening the chest muscles and collar bones.

The Sequence:

Garudasana (Eagle Pose) arms in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with the back against the wall

Side Stretch at wall
• Lean the right side of the body into the wall with the right arm overhead.
• Bend the right elbow, take hold of it with the left hand and draw the arm up and over the top of the head. Hold for a minute or two and repeat on the second side.

Urdhva Baddha Hastasana (Upward Bound Hands Pose) with the back against the wall

Opening Vinyasa:
All Fours
Plank Pose
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Child’s Pose
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Lunge with the back knee up
Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Hopping back and forth between Adho Mukha Shvanasana and Uttanasana 3 or 4 times
Child’s Pose

Parivrtta Parshvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose) simple variation with the hand on the floor and not crossed over the front thigh

Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose) variation with the elbow bent and the forearm on the floor

Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose)

Pashchima Baddha Hastasana (Elbows Clasped Behind the Back) in Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose)

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose) with a block under the pelvis

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose) from the floor
• 2 or 3 attempts.

Pashchima Baddha Hastasana (Elbows Clasped Behind the Back) in Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose)

Purvottanasana (Intense East Stretch Pose) table top tariation with the hands on blocks
• Do the pose twice.

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) with the feet on blocks
• Either hold on to the ankles directly, or loop a belt around them and hold on to that.

Reclined Hip Stretch

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) with the feet on the floor
• Either hold on to the ankles directly, or loop a belt around them and hold on to that.

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2) with the leg resting on a block, blanket or bolster

Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) with the feet on the wall

Jathara Parivartanasana (Belly Turning Pose) soft variation with the hips and waist on the Sarvangasana blankets

Shavasana (Corpse Pose) with a lift under the trunk


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