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Increase your shoulder flexibility and develop greater strength with these prep poses for Pincha Mayurasana.
Cow Face Pose arms
Opens the shoulders and teaches you how to let go by using the breath and holding the pose
Sit on your heels with your inner ankles touching. If your knees hurt, try Sukhasana (Easy Pose). Reach your arms sideways and then take the back of your left hand behind you and between your shoulder blades. Use your right hand at your left elbow to move your left hand higher up your back. Turn the left palm open. Root the thumb and small finger evenly into your back. Release and do the other side. For step 2, have a belt ready. Bring the left hand back to where it was. With the right arm still out, turn the right palm open. Inhale to bring the right arm up, bend the elbow, and reach for your left hand. If you are unable to clasp your hands, use the belt, with an end in each hand. Keep your right elbow pointing up and rotate the upper arm toward the ear. Keep your left shoulder in line with your collarbones. Breathe smoothly, directing your breath into any tightness. Relax your face, especially the jaw. Hold for as long as you can breathe comfortably but still feel challenged. To release, take your arms to your sides. Repeat step 2 on the opposite side.
Shoulder opener using a chair
Continues to open your shoulders
From kneeling, place your elbows at the edge of a chair seat, shoulder-width apart. Bring your hands together and your knees in line with your hips. Press your elbows down as you draw the shoulder blades and upper back flat; your front ribs and lumbar spine should not collapse. Resist the fronts of the arms away from the floor and move the front ribs toward the fronts of your pelvic bones. Hold for as long as you are comfortable breathing. When you reach your edge, stay mindful and hold for two more breaths. This is good to repeat!
See alsoShoulder-Opening Sequence
Opens your shoulders while training the hands and elbows to ground
Start by placing a block wide and upright against the wall. Loop a belt and place it just above your elbows, shoulder-width apart. Your hands should be shoulder-distance apart, or a bit wider. (If your shoulders are broad, use a second block.) Place the index fingers or the tips of the thumbs at the sides of the block (see insets). Set up for Dolphin by grounding your inner wrists and forearms to lift your shoulders. Exhale to lift your hips and come up onto your toes in order to lift your hips even higher out of the shoulders. Breathe smoothly and hold for as long as you can without strain in the face or breath.
DON’T spread your thumbs too wide. You won’t be able to ground your inner wrists.