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Monday, March 15, 2010

Yoga for Life- Chest Opener

Have you spent all day at your computer? Hunched over taking care of kids, stuck behind the wheel, or sore from being a weekend warrior? Today’s yoga pose can be done standing or sitting (but not driving!). It opens the chest and shoulders and strengthens the back muscles. Just one reminder before we get started. People are challenged by different variations. Yoga is about how your body moves and how your body feels. It is not a competition between people or even within you. It is about this moment and taking the opportunity to choose to do something good for the only body you will ever have. Please choose the variation that is best for you that doesn't cause any pain.

With that in mind, you will want to read the entire post before you get started.

1. Begin by standing or sitting straight and tall. This, in itself, can be a great challenge. The weight should be evenly distributed over the toes or sit bones/gluts and the spine should be straight. Tuck your sit bones underneath your body and pull the belly button in tight towards your spine. Lift up through your chest and pull your shoulder blades up, around and back like you are tucking them in to the pocket of your jeans. Your chin should be parallel to the floor. This may be enough of a stretch for you. If it is, hold here and breathe. See step four regarding breath. It may surprise you.

2. Place both hands behind your back and loosely lace your fingers together. Maintain your straight posture. You may start to feel a stretch in your arms and chest at this point. This variation may also be enough of a challenge for you. If it is, hold here and breathe.

3. As you breathe, slowly begin to raise your laced together fingers until you feel a stretch. You will want to push the stretch as far as you can without feeling pain or compromising your posture.

4. Hold your pose for several deep breaths. Breaths start and end at your nose, inhaling to fill your chest and using your muscles to exhale completely. This will fill your lungs with fresh air and empty them of air that is full of carbon dioxide. This process replaces the old air and will rejuvenate and invigorate. If you find that you are tired during the day, fully filling and emptying your lungs is a great way to wake up (and save the $4 Red Bull). Most of the day is spent hunched over and we don’t give our lungs enough room to fully expand, leaving little room for oxygen and energy rich breath.

5. Hold this for 5 slow, controlled breaths. Don’t forget the slow part.

Repeat whenever you find yourself tired, crabby, hunched over or just when you think about it during the day.


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