Chair Yoga Practice #10: Move Your Shoulders to Increase Strength In Your Upper Back to Keep Your Neck Feeling Good and Happy!!

No matter how we look at bad posture it’s something that inflicts ALL of us! It’s so easy to get a hunch in our upper spine as we get focused on whatever task we have at hand. Unfortunately, we don’t notice our bad posture until the effects impact our body with discomfort. We can get pain in our necks, stiffness in our shoulders, weakness and strain in our upper backs. It also effects our digestion by compressing the abdomen. As well as, our ability to take much needed full lung, deep breaths. Which deprives our bodies of the oxygenated blood that we need to keep our bodies working optimally. So what’s the solution?

Like most things the solution is simple, but we have to be active in our process in order to get the outcomes that we desire. In this case it’s improving our posture. There are simple ways that posture can be improved, and I have two Mindful Minutes specifically on posture that you can access here on my blog. Within those minutes I give easy to remember actions with simply cues! Ideally both of these actions would be performed ever 30-60 minutes throughout the day.

The first one is to move shoulders over hips. This is a reminder to sit up straight, much like our mom encouraged us to do so in years past. Sitting Up especially when the signs of fatigue, or tension begin to settle into the back body is a great habit to begin. The bonus of sitting up tall creates the opportunity and the space to take in a nice, deep breath. Which in turn will help to create clarity while we helping us decompress for a moment. The second is to move the chin back into extension. This helps to realign the upper spine by intentionally moving the head and neck in the opposite direction of the hunch posture that can happen throughout the day. When performed properly it can instantly relieve discomfort. My Physical Therapist, Dr. Abby, shared this technique with me, and I’m forever grateful for it and use it often.

It’s great to have simple tools on hand that we can put into action in any given moment, but what if we could go a step further? The step that allows us to bring awareness to a specific area of our body. The step that allows us to gain knowledge of movement while building strength that will help to create lasting stability for the weaker areas of our body? Well, if you know anything about me you already know that my mindset is saying lets get it! So, that’s what we’re going to do!

In today’s 11 minute Chair Yoga practice we’re going to explore the upper body, specifically some movements of the shoulder blades. Our shoulder blades are located in our upper back and are often referred to as our angle wings. As as yoga teacher I’ve discovered over the years that most of my students had no awareness of how to mobilize their shoulder blades. If we can’t mobilize our wings then how can we fly, no? I’ve always enjoyed sharing shoulder and upper back movements with my classes, and witnessing my students make new connections with their body’s ability to move. Today, my hope is to help bring some new awareness to you about your upper body too!

Within this 11 minute chair yoga practice we’ll make the effort to move our shoulder blades up and down similar to the action of a shoulder shrug when you ask a toddler what they’ve been up to after finding crayon drawings all over the wall, lol! We’ll also explore the action of adduction, moving the shoulder blades towards the spine, as if we were holding a pencil with them in our upper back. Followed by abduction, moving the shoulder blades away from the spine, allowing the pencil to fall onto the chair. These movements will increase awareness while building strength to help create stability for the upper back over time and consistent practice. It’s important that you find your end range of each movement allowing the breath to support the effort as not to create over strain in the process of practice.

We’ll also move through the spine to warm up as we practice moving our breath throughout our body in different shapes. This helps us to practice deeper breathing while creating elasticity in our side body that often becomes stiff due to inactivity that comes from sitting over extended periods of time. It’s so easy to sit in our convenient world that we’ve created over a multitude of decades. So there’s no need to feel guilt, we just need to be aware and implement activities that can counterbalance the good life! Lucky for us chair yoga is a perfect anesthetist, ironically enough! Ooooo and setting a “get moving” timer on our phone, or fitbit can be a masterful tool towards regular movement as well!!

Speaking of movement, while you move through this practice, I want you to remember to move by allowing your breathe to be your guide. Take notice of what you sense differently from your right side to your left side. Take notice of any warm, or tingling that you may notice after specific movements and enjoy them, because that’s the oxygenate blood moving throughout your body. IT’S A GOOD THING!!! You’re actually learning how to activate those wings, so you can fly!

Lastly, remember to be patient, be consistent and enjoy your Chair Yoga practice. Keep me posted on how it goes, and please know I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below, so drop me a line! I’m here to support you! Until then, push play and get moving mindfully in your body!

Post Photo By: Darius Bell