Basic Practice: Strengthing the Arms, Back and Sides

The focus of this practice is on strength of the upper body: not only the arms, back and chest, but also on the sides of the body and the muscles that connect the shoulder blades to the back.

As you go through the poses, focus on moving the shoulder blades forward with the arms, pasting them onto the back as you also widen the ribs into the shoulder blades, creating a strong, anchoring seal. All the while, keep the upper back and chest equally wide.

The Sequence:

Side Stretch at the wall
• Stand with the feet together about eight to twelve inches away from the wall and lean the right hip, waist and ribs against it. Reach the right arm up. Pause here for a few breaths.
• Come up onto the balls of the feet. Stay here for a few breaths.
• Slowly drop the right heel, resisting up through the ribs and arms to lengthen out the right side of the waist. When the right heel is down, drop the left.
• Bend the right elbow and clasp it with the left hand. Draw the upper arm bone up towards the ceiling. Hold here for a few breaths.
• Take the tip of the elbow up and over the top of the head while keeping the outer armpit moving into the wall. Hold here for a few breaths.
• Turn the chest a slightly into the middle of the room to send the stretch towards the back. Hold here for a few breaths.
• Release and repeat on the second side.

Urdhva Baddhanguliyasana (Upward Bound Fingers Pose) with the back against the wall

Down Dog Cycle:
[Perform these poses one after the other, holding each for 30 seconds at a time.]

All Fours
Child’s Pose
All Fours
Plank Pose
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Child’s Pose
All Fours
Plank Pose with the toes pointed
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Child’s Pose

Standing Pose Cycle:
[Perform each of these on after the other, going from side to side without returning to Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and without lower the arms throughout the entire sequence.]

Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2)
Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)
Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior Pose 2)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose) variation with the elbow bent

Forearm Stand preparation

Makarasana (Crocodile Pose)

Forearm Stand preparation with second interlock of the fingers

Makarasana (Crocodile Pose) with second interlock of the fingers

Up Dog Cycle:
[Perform these poses one after the other, holding each for 30 seconds at a time.]

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose) with the toes turned under
Plank Pose
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose) on the tops of the feet, with the toes pointed
Plank Pose on the tops of the feet, with the toes pointed
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Child’s Pose

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose) preparation
• Organize yourself as if about to do the pose and brace the body into the floor to take a little weight, but without actually lifting up.

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

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

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose)
• Do the pose twice, resting in between.

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) with the feet on blocks, holding onto a belt around the ankles

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) over a bolster

Viparita Karani (Upside Down Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose) with a lift under the trunk


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