Intermediate Practice: The Pillars of the Armpit, Part 2

Once again, the theme of this practice is balancing the front and back body by creating space in the armpits, especially in inversions such as Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand) and in bound poses such as Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2).

To recap the key points of our previous practice, consider the following as you go through the poses:
  • Soften and widen the deltoids, allowing them to wrap around the shoulder joints.
  • Soften and hollow out the armpits, allowing them to dome into the shoulder joint.
  • When the arms are weight-bearing, balance the weight evenly between each of the four armpit pillars: two on the left, two on the right. Some of us will sit more in the outer/back armpit, some of us will be more in the inner/front. Some people might even have one tendency in one shoulder and the opposite in the other.
  • Stretch evenly through both armpit pillars.

To create more freedom in the chest and shoulder by considering the following sequence of actions:
  • Bring weight into the outer armpit pillar to free up the inner armpit/top chest.
  • Hollow out the armpit itself and excavate out space inside the inner armpit, separating it away from the underlying ribs.
  • Maintaining that space and separation, bring weight back into the inner armpit pillar, balancing out front and back.
  • Cycle through these action several times to help free and open the chest.

The Sequence:

Opening Wall Stretches:
• 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.
• Chest opener: Stand with the right hand on the wall at shoulder height. Keeping the shoulder blade down the back, spread the fingers and palms and straighten the elbow. Hold this position for several seconds. Without lifting the shoulder blade, turn the chest away from the wall. Hold this for several seconds. Release and repeat on the second side.
• Shoulder Stretch at wall: Place the forearms and elbows on the wall with the palms together. Make a right angle at the hips with the feet under the pelvis hip width apart. Draw the inner thighs back and reach the arms forward.

Plank Pose

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Plank Pose

Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand) with the palms turned out

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand) with the palms in the regular position

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand) with the palms turned in

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)
• Have the hands flat on the floor on either side of the feet. If you are unable to get the heel of the hand all the way down, put the hands on blocks.

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose) with the palms flat on blocks
• Do both variations: arms under the shoulders and the back flat; arms out alongside the ears.

Prasarita Padottanasana 1 (Wide Spread Feet Pose 1) INTO Salamba Shirshasana 2 (Head Stand 2) INTO
Prasarita Padottanasana 1 (Wide Spread Feet Pose 1)

Salamba Shirshasana 2 (Head Stand 2)

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Chair Sequence:
Single Leg Ankle to Knee Stretch
Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2)
• Bind one leg in Ardha Padmasana (Half Lotus Pose) with one foot on the floor and twist.
Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Intense Stretch Pose)
• Unbound, using the chair for balance.
Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Intense Stretch Pose)
• Bound, using the chair for balance.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Chatushpadasana (Four Footed Pose)
• Do the pose twice.

Sarvangasana Cycle:
Salamba Sarvangasana 2 (Shoulder Stand 2) variation with the wrists belted
Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
Halasana (Plough Pose) with all the arm variations
Karnapidasana (Pressure on the Ear Pose)
Supta Konasana (Seated Angle Pose)
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)
Parshvaikapada Sarvangasana (Single Leg to the Side Shoulder Stand)

Ardha Baddha Padma Pashchimottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Intense West Stretch Pose)
• Do the pose at first with the full binding, then release the bind and clasp the foot of the extended leg.

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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