Yogarda – Yoga Tutorial: Shoulders & Chest

This Yoga for Climbers tutorial is all about your chest and the muscles in your shoulders that tighten up the most – not just from a day of climbing but also setting in front of your computer all day.

There are two variations with a slightly different focus and energy.

Ardha Purvottanasana // Reverse Table Top Pose

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Come to sitting on your mat with your knees bent, feet hip distance in front of you and your hands an arm and half’s length behind your hips. Rotate your hands so the fingers point towards your hips (instead of away from you), but if that feels very uncomfortable in your wrists let them face behind you.

Press all 10 fingertips into the ground, root down trough your big toe mounts and lift your hips to knee height with and inhale. Don’t let your knees splay out to the sides and hug your forearms in to lift your chest. Pull your shoulder blades on to your back and either keep your neck long or gently let the back of your head sink down. Keep shoulders, hips and thighs in one line for 5-10 breaths, then lower back down and either sit with your legs stretched out in front of you or hug your knees for a moment.

This is a great pose to counter balance the effects of climbing in your shoulders and chest, stretching and elongating all the muscles that get tightened up in the rocks.

Purvottanasana // Upward Facing Plank Pose

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The full version of Purvottanasana (Upward Plank Pose) is also a great stretch for the chest, heart and shoulder area, yet it also doubles as a great strengthener for your front and back side alike.

The set up is the same as for Reverse Table Top (as explained above) yet with your feet walked out in front of you. With your legs completely straight, press your big toes into the ground to lift your hips higher. Keep your shoulder blades on your back and don’t let your chest collapse. Spread your weight evenly between hands and feet and all 10 finger tips on the ground. Stay for 3-6 breaths, keeping your hips level with your chest – feel free to bend your knees any time and walk your feet back in closer towards you for the half-version.

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If you feel strong and confident here, don’t have any neck issue and want to deepen the stretch on the front body side even further, you can very gently start let the back of your head sink towards the ground behind you. Make this a very conscious action, creating a strength curve in your neck, rather than just flinging your head back, overarching this part of your spine that is very mobile already.

For an added cleansing effect, exhale out of your mouth sticking your tongue and making a grimace for Simhasana, Lion’s Breath. Do 2-3 rounds, then use your inhale to lift your head back up, tuck your chin to your chest and sit back down.

Practice Tip

Reverse Table Top and Purvottanasana are great stand alone poses to inject into your daily routine at work, or as a short stretch out after climbing. Yet as a regular work out routine, both variations are also great as training as preparation for climbing season or your next trip.

To make it a full practice, start warming your body up with a couple of rounds of Sun Salutations. There are different versions, ranging from gentle to quite dynamic & challenging, so just pick whatever feels right for you on any given day. Follow up with a gentle warm up with the Ustrasana tutorial for Core & Heart and continue with some more work for core and legs from the first video tutorial. After that you’re perfectly prepared to go even deeper into your shoulders and core with either Purvottanasana or Reverse Table Top. Finish your session with a couple of minutes, sitting in silence or lying down on your back for full relaxation in Savasana.

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