Before you do your yoga asanas it’s a good idea to do some warming exercises like joint mobilities first to loosen up your joints and increase the heat in your body. This is especially true for the winter months when our bodies tends to stiffen up from the cold. Try these shoulder exercises and see how you warm up, not just in the shoulders but also spreading down your torso, arms and up into the neck. They will help release tension from the neck and shoulders also and you may even find yourself saying goodbye to tension headaches.
Stand or sit with a straight back and squeeze your shoulders up to your ears and you breathe in and let them drop down as you breathe out. Repeat this a couple of times
Now inhale and squeeze up and exhale and drop them down as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. Now inhale as you roll the shoulders forward and up and exhale as they come back and down. Do this 10 times in one direction then repeat in the other direction.
Now bring the arms out to the sides in line with the shoulders, with the palms facing up. Make 10 small circles in each direction. This not only warms up the shoulders and upper back but strengthens around the shoulder blades, opens the chest and supports great posture.
Bring your arms down beside you with the palms turned outwards and rest your shoulders for a few breaths. You might like to stretch your neck slowly from side to side a few times. Now lift your arms out to each side in line with your shoulders and bend the elbows so the fingers rest lightly on the shoulders. Join the back of the hands behind your neck so that the elbows point upwards and inhale. Exhale as you separate the elbows, slide the fingers out along the shoulders and bring the arms back and down to behind the waist.
Inhale as you bring the elbows forward, maybe even touching the elbows together in front of you and then return to the elbows pointing up position and continue with this circular movement for 10 cycles then repeat in the other direction.
Now that you have warmed your shoulders and opened your upper chest notice your great posture and feel warmth spreading throughout your whole body. Use this warmth to carry on comfortably with your yoga poses.
By Vrndavan Dasi
Founder and Principal of Veda Yoga Teacher Training