Yoga for Your Heart....(neck and shoulders!)

This is for the benefit of the students that I recently had in a Yoga for the Neck & Shoulders workshop at Adeline Yoga Studio but I am sharing it with all as it is a gift that can help almost everyone these days! I would like to give all credit to Lois Steinberg who has fearlessly collected and transmitted the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar and Geeta Iyengar as they apply to modification and adjustments for common problems as well as more complex yoga therapeutics.  If you are a more experienced yoga practitioner and study with a Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher (CIYT), I would seriously consider an investment in one or many of her books. You can purchase them here: 

This is a simplification of the poses that we did in the workshop that is meant to be a guide for home practice. 

Start with a resting pose, especially if you are experiencing any pain. 

Pavanmuktasana: Two chairs can be used instead of the bench

Pavanmuktasana: Two chairs can be used instead of the bench

Shoulder Savasana with weights on the shoulders and arms. Sandbags are used here but you can get creative!

Shoulder Savasana with weights on the shoulders and arms. Sandbags are used here but you can get creative!

Then move on to "re-patterning" the shape of your shoulders and upper girdle of the torso.

  • Lower the inner shoulder (upper trapezius)
  • Turn the outer shoulder to insert the outer shoulderblade into the body towards the spine
  • Fill the upper chest under the collar bone
  • Stretch the forearm towards the wall broadening the heel of the hand
  • You will feel strong sensations in the wrist, arm and shoulder here but should not feel shooting nerve pain. Back it up if this happens.
  • Watch a video of Lois teaching this pose!

Next, open the front of your chest and particularly the armpit area. Watch a video of Lois teaching this here.

Next for some chair twists, Bharadvajasana. If you also have lower back issues, make sure that you are executing these twists from the diaphragmatic area vs. the lumbar spine and sacrum.

Another standing twist, Utthita Marichyasana. In this one use the legs and arms to find length in the torso vs. screwing yourself down into a twist. Ascend and twist from the bottom back ribs. Use the actions from the arm exercises at the wall earlier to inform your twists.

  • Watch Lois teach this pose!

Finally, rest again in a supported version of Viparita Karani (Inverted Action or Lake pose). A chair can be used in leue of the Halasana box that is used in the photo. Be sure that your lower back and pelvis feels secure and rested on the bolster so the abdomen is placid and spreading. Open your chest by releasing the shoulders to the floor and spreading the bottom, front floating ribs (the diaphragm). Breath should be through the nose and soft, even, smooth and tranquil.

At the end of the practice, take some version of Savasana, either face up or face down. Observe the transformation from the practice you did. Allow the effects of the practice to percolate and fill all the cells of your body.