SHOULDER STRENGTH SERIES
Yoga is about balancing effort and ease, just like life. In this class, we start with a restorative Supported Fish to open the chest and relax the shoulders, and then we move into some excellent strengthening work for the shoulders. Once we move through the effortful section, we flow and breathe, looking for ease in the postures. We end with Gomukhasana (Cow Faced Pose), a seated hip opener and shoulder stretch, and then Bridge, a Reclined Twist, and of course, Savasana. A bolster or pillow, a blanket or towel, and 2 blocks will be helpful for this practice.
Times like these, when things change so quickly remind us that all we REALLY have is the present moment. Get anchored into our body and breath with Alternate Nostril Breathing, and then we start a present-moment awareness of the shoulders, building upon the Shoulder Strengthening #1 practice. In this class, we practice pulling strength as well as pushing strength (pulling is less common in yoga), and we also explore the various ways the shoulders can move (forward, backward, up, down, around). Feel the back body as well as the front body, the top and the bottom, and the right and left sides continually through this flow, and use this experience to get MORE anchored into presence and awareness. 2 blocks and a blanket are needed for this practice.
Build upon the work in Shoulder Strengthening #1 class to add some progressively harder versions of some excellent shoulder movement. This practice is designed to help you build global strength of positions for things like our yoga push up, the wonderful Chatturanga Dandasana, and to also help you move in all kinds of new directions. Work like this “turns on” shoulders awareness, and can often help us RELEASE tension and relax more fully. So feel YOUR energy, in the beginning, middle, and end of this practice and see if that’s the case for you! We’ll also flow through a progression of Buddha, some twists, Skandasana, Side Plank, and Eagle, and finally a good rest in a restorative Stonehedge. You’ll need 2 blocks.
This shoulder-focused practice is the 4th in this series, and includes moving forward with more challenging progressions of scapular circles (aka “shoulder circles”), some great pulling work, and adding “load” by holding onto blocks (all building upon Shoulder Strengthening #2). Who knew blocks could make things harder, right?? The intention of this class is for you to cultivate a way to move forward (with your practice, with your LIFE) from a place that is centered and anchored in awareness. You’ll need a blanket/towel and 2 blocks/books.
Filmed on Earth day, this is the 5th class in a series on building control, mobility, and strength in the shoulders. Adding progressively more challenging active work is great for functional movement, and we alternate this strong, stabilizing work with flowy movement – finding that pulsation between Shiva (steadiness/stillness/pure consciousness) and Shakti (creativity/movement/manifestation). This pulsation is called Spanda in the yoga tradition, and we as humans are part of it! Explore a great wrist preparation, some chest presses (like a pushup) and Side Plank transitions within the flow and connect to universal energy.
The 6th practice in the series on increasing shoulder awareness focuses on pulling strength, and layers on progressively more challenging options to movements we did in the 2nd and 4th classes. The focus on this class is on increasing a sense of refinement, and in doing so, becoming more sensitive and building the muscle of awareness. We start with Alternate Nostril Breathing, then move into some great neck and shoulder work in a variety of positions. Shoulder movements progress to All 4s and then to Plank for an extra challenge! We flow into lunges, backbend shapes and a Revolved Triangle Pose, then into some Mermaid Slides to work those pulling muscles, and visit some stages of Tripod Headstand Prep. We end with some reclined hip and twisting work, and then rest. Ahhhh. Enjoy! You’ll need 2 blocks and also a blanket/towel on a hardwood or tile floor, OR a paper plate or slider for carpet.
Counteract all that sitting at computers and looking at phones with new shoulder movements! In this class (the 7th in the series), we start to explore developing greater awareness and activation of the shoulders through opposing arm circles, some great pulling work using a strap, a fun traveling Plank, Downdog Push-ups, and Incline Push-ups at the wall and using a chair. All of this work serves to activate the BACK of the shoulders and can have the effect of helping us to open the front of the body and lift the heart. We play in some wonderful side-body stretching, and a flow that moves through Side Plank, Twisted Lunges, and Wide-Legged Forward Fold before we wind down with Bananasana and Savasana. You’ll need 2 blocks, a strap, some wall space and a chair or countertop.
Stillness is not the absence of movement, but rather a sense of presence in the current moment. We use this theme to explore our mental state and sense of presence, in the practice AND off the mat. The 8th in this series on shoulder strengthening the exploration, this class building “pulling strength,” which is often missed in traditional yoga practices. We also play with lots of binds and half binds, eventually flowing into a Bound Warrior Flow, and even an option for Half Bound Half Moon. This is a strengthening class, but one that invites ease, letting go, and finding that sense of awareness and stillness that is available to us ALL the time. You’ll need one block for this practice.
In this class, we explore lots of different options for movement around a stable and mobile spine, because the more options we have the better! We build upon the 7th class in the shoulder strengthening series by revisiting arm circles, opposing arm circles, a pull-down movement in Downward Facing Dog, and Incline Push-ups at the wall/ a chair. Amidst all of that, enjoy a flow that leads toward a prep for Side Crow, so we enjoy lots of twisting and side bending. Keeping the spine long and the breath full, you’ll practice all kinds of creative movements to keep your body responsive and resilient, even in imperfect times. You’ll need a strap, 2 blocks/books, a space at the wall, and/or a chair.
Harnessing strength from the back of the body has a tremendous effect on helping our shoulders and neck feel happy and healthy (since we spend a lot of time with the arms in front on computers, phones, driving, etc.)! Therefore, this class incorporates work to bring more awareness and clarity of movement to the back of the shoulders, as well as some excellent active twisting work. We use a transition from Sphinx to Forearm Plank in place of the traditional vinyasa, plus we’ll do some wrist warmup work so we can try our hand at Side Crow (Parsva Bakasana). Reverse Tabletop helps us connect again to having our arms back behind us, and we end with an arm-focused prep for Shoulderstand to really connect and get clear on the strength required to activate the arms in this way. Lots of chances to rest, relax, and connect to your breathing are given. You’ll want 1 block for this practice.
Explore the pulling and pushing capabilities of your shoulders as we work toward the global movement on the almighty Push-Up (at a wall or on a chair) as we explore the idea of using the yoga practice as a way to converse with ourselves and be in revolution. This flow includes our excellent shoulder work that builds upon the 9th practice in this series, so we’ll play with putting opposite arm circles (challenging on their own!) into a lunge shape, as well as incorporate many of these strength moves in a full revolving flow that travels in a circle (a mandala flow). This practice also invites you to use Stali breath, a cooling breath that is wonderful for hot days such as the one on which this class was filmed! You’ll need 2 blocks and a strap, plus a chair or a place at the wall for this practice.
You know more than you think you do, and this class is a reminder to integrate and embody the knowledge you already have, and to let go of things that need to be released. Enjoy this last class in the shoulder strengthening series, and integrate a lot of great, balancing shoulder work including some wonderful range of motion exploration movement, posterior arm holds, some excellent pulling work in Sphinx, and more. We end with an arm-focused prep for Shoulderstand/Plow Pose before we wind down with reclined twists and a reclined Figure 4. You’ll need one block and a strap for this practice.
This genius shoulder series helped me find freedom in an area of congestion by firing things up in just the right way!
“I have started the shoulder series from the beginning after doing your amazing ladder flow. What a blessing that they are available. After a few bouts of frozen shoulder and an accident while building a dock, this area has been needing attention. After doing one of your shoulder classes, I felt such freedom in an area that was very congested. And you have a way to fire up just the right muscle that will help strengthen that area. Genius!”