Last week we worked on releasing the lower body. This week, our focus will be releasing the upper body, releasing the arms, the upper back, the chest and the neck.
Centering [1 to 3 minutes]
- Take a few moments to gather the mind and body up into the present moment, letting go of the day that’s been and releasing any anticipation or apprehension over the day to come.
- Become aware of the movement of the ribcage as you breath: expanding and rising with the inhalations, draping down the length of the body with the exhalations. Allow the shoulders to settle on the ribs. Observe as they rise and separate with the inhalations, observe as the sink with the exhalations.
Shavasana (Corpse Pose) with arm support [5 to 10 minutes]
You will need three blankets and two blocks for this variation.
Roll up two of your blankets and fold the third for a pillow.
Lie back with the pillow blanket under the head. Place the two rolls under the upper arms and the blocks under the hands.
Allow the arms to drop into the props.
After a few minutes, gently roll the arms from side to side, freeing up all the joints. Do one arm for a few minutes, then the other for the same amount of time.
Having done both arms, rest completely for a few minutes more.
- Lie back with the bolster comfortably placed under the side body so that there is an even sweep of the torso.
- Lie back over the bolster with the arms over head.
- Support the head and arms with blocks and blankets as needed for the pose to be completely comfortable.
- Come into the pose with a bolster between the legs and the head and arm comfortable supported with blankets if necessary.
- Lie back with a rolled up blanket or mat under the back of the neck. Allow the head to fall sightly back.
Viparita Karani (Upside Down Pose) [5—10 minutes]
Adho Mukha Shavasana (Downward Facing Corpse Pose) over a bolster [5 to 10 minutes]
- Set up with a bolster under the knees and the head comfortably supported by a blanket.
- Spend a few minutes allowing the upper back and chest to widen, allowing the collarbones to release and the shoulder blades to drop into the floor.
- Soften each of the sense organs individually: the skin, the tongue, the ear canals and inner ears, the nasal passages, the muscles around the eyes and the eyeballs themselves, the temples and, finally, the brain, the organizer of the senses.
- Focus on the movement of the breath through the body, allowing the exhalations to be full and free, taking care to allow the diaphragm to release completely at the end of each exhalation.
- Observe the thoughts as if the were objects flowing into and out of your awareness. Whenever you get caught up in a thought, acknowledge that this has happened, let the thought go and return to your observation.