Whether you spend your days typing, driving, playing guitar, or adjusting your yoga students, repeated motions can cause tightness, strain, and repetitive stress injury. Because so many daily activities involve the arms, shoulders, and wrists, says Daren Friesen, director and founder of Chicago's Moksha Yoga Center, you'd be wise to build strength and flexibility in these often used areas. Even if you don't suffer from repetitive stress, a structurally stable upper body will prepare you for more-advanced arm balances and inversions.
Friesen designed a sequence to strengthen the upper body, while opening up the nadis (energetic channels) in the arms that, when blocked, can cause discomfort. "When energy flows freely through the channels, there is an absence of pain and strain," he says.
Friesen recommends blending sthira (steadiness) and sukha (ease) while doing the poses. If you feel unstable or sense that you are overworking, bring your attention to your breath, gaze, and spine. "Feel grounded and connected to the earth," he says, "while at the same time feeling long and tall through your spine to create a free flow of energy through your central channel."