This is a very bad habit. Stretching helps your breathing, heart rate, muscle growth and muscle pain. As you can imagine, my shoulders are pretty tense and knotted at the moment. If you frequently have this problem, here are three beginner yoga techniques that can help.
What is yoga?
For those not in the know, my yoga instructor friend Alison Kealey explains,
“Yoga (meaning “to yoke”) is an ancient philosophical and spiritual system which aims to unite the body and the mind.
Hatha yoga is a physical branch of this system which focuses on the use asanas (physical postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises); the yoga offered at your local studio or gym is most likely Hatha yoga. There are hundreds of asanas with any number of variations to accommodate different body types, life history and fitness.
Yogic breathing can help carry you through difficult physical tasks and moments as one learns how to control and maximize the breath. Through practice, the combination of breath and movement can improve one’s mind-body awareness, health, flexibility and stamina.”
The mountain pose works to center your posture, and keep your shoulders still and safe. It’s a great way to warm up for further shoulder stretching.
Stand with your feet together, heels slightly faced outwards. Relax your shoulders and bring your hands together in front of you. Lift your head upwards and take in your breathing through the nose and out through the mouth.
Yoga stretches are frequently about breath-activity and awareness of your body. The mountain pose is designed to make you think about your breathing and your muscles. When you’re ready, you can move on to the next technique.
This is a beginner technique that is designed to remove tension from your shoulders.
Lie on your back with your knees bent, and your feet against the floor. With your arms against the ground, lift your pelvis and hips up, bringing your back up with them. Only your upper shoulder blades should be touching the ground. Relax. This should release the tension.
This beginner technique is designed to make your back more flexible and deal with shoulder pain.
Lie on your front so that your knees, legs and feet are flat against the floor. Keeping your hands flat against the ground, lift your chests and shoulders up. Make sure you keep your ribs against the ground. This should stretch out your shoulders and back.
Now that your shoulders are stretched and feeling great, it’s time to get in some more exercising. If you’re a runner (and you should be), my friend Alison Kealey has some more advice about the benefits of yoga:
“Yogic breathing techniques allow you to maximize oxygen intake while running as you learn to breathe deeply and with control. The physical practice of yoga may improve your flexibility, stamina and strength as you stretch, hold physically strenuous postures for extended periods of time or repeat a sequence with vigor.
Running involves the use of specific muscle groups. Asanas which focus on those muscle groups can stretch or strengthen the muscles in question. Cross-training with yoga can also develop any neglected muscle groups, preventing injury and pain.”
Yoga has something for everyone. I hope these techniques help keep you limber and ready to get active.