Yoga Sequences

Strong Armed

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.”

Before You Begin

SIT Start with a 5-minute seated meditation focusing on your breath.

CHANTChant Om three times, focusing on the belly, chest, and third eye, respectively.

BREATHEDo three rounds of Viloma Pranayama I: Inhale in three parts, pausing at the belly, chest, and third eye. Pause for one count as you hold the breath, then exhale.

MOVETake five rounds of Sun Salutation A and three rounds of Sun Salutation B. Do standing poses like Trikonasana (Triangle Pose), Parsvakonasana (Side Angle Pose), and Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend).

After You Finish

INVERT Do Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand), Halasana (Plow Pose), and Matsyasana Matsyasana (Fish Pose).

BREATHE Do three rounds of Viloma Pranayama II: Exhale in three parts, pausing at the third eye, chest, and belly. Pause for one count. Inhale.

REST Take Savasana (Corpse Pose) for 10 minutes.

MEDITATE Sit cross-legged and take Jnana Mudra (Wisdom Seal): Touch your first finger, representing the soul, to the thumb, representing the Divine. Meditate on the light of your inner essence.