Level 1 Group Class

Here’s what I‘ve been teaching in my Level 1 classes this past week.

The basic idea is opening the eyes of the chest--the space between the collarbones and the top of the chest (see illustration)--to create release in the neck and shoulders.

Opening 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.
• 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.
• Chest opener: Place the right hand on the wall at shoulder height. Spread through the fingers and palm and, keeping the shoulder blade moving down the back, reach through the arm.

All Fours INTO Plank Pose INTO Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• Stretch forward through the armpits while taking the eyes of the chest up and back towards the thighs.

Child’s Pose

All Fours INTO Plank Pose INTO Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• Stretch forward through the armpits while taking the eyes of the chest up and back towards the thighs.

Child’s Pose

Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)
• Raised hand on hip.
• Press top shoulder away from ear, reaching collar bone towards elbow.
• Turn eye of the chest towards the ceiling, head following, keeping the back of the neck soft and wide.

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)
• Begin by reaching raised arm forward and widening across the upper back.
• Press into the back heel and reach the arm forward and up, bringing it alongside the ear.
• Keep the shoulder soft and wide and stretch evenly through the inner and outer armpit.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• As above.

Block lifts over a roll
• Roll up a blanket or mat and lie back with it across the bottom of the shoulder blades so that the shoulders do not quite make it to the floor.
• Hold a block between the hands at the widest width.
• Slowly bring the arms overhead, making sire not to let the block wobble.
• Pause with the arms alongside the ears and reach through the arms and legs.
• Slowly bring the arms back up towards the ceiling, again without letting the block wobble.
• Do this a total of 3-4 times

Dandasana (Staff Pose)

Bharadwajasana 1 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 1) with simple arms
• Turn the collarbone away from the chest.
• Look first over the leading shoulder then, without losing the turn of the collarbone, turn the head to look over the opposite shoulder.

Bharadwajasana 1 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 1) with the arm bound behind the back (use a belt if necessary)
• As above.

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi’s Pose 3)
• Take the collarbone of the arm that is crossing the thigh and turn it down as you roll the other collarbone up in a wringing action to open the eye of the chest.

Dandasana (Staff Pose)

Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose) preparation
• Belt the elbows at shoulder width, place the forearms on the floor with the palms down on the mat.
• Place a block between the hands to stop them from sliding in towards each other.
• Walk the feet in, keeping the head down and the neck relaxed
• Stretch forward through the armpits while taking the eyes of the chest up and back towards the thighs.

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) with feet on blocks and holding on to ankles with a belt
• Widen the collarbones and turn the eyes of the chest towards the throat.

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) with feet on blocks and holding on to ankles with a belt
• As above.

Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) on blankets with the elbows belted and the feet at the wall
• Hold the pose for a minute or so with the feet on the wall to encourage the chest to open before attempting the balance.
• Widen the collarbones and turn the eyes of the chest towards the throat.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)

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