Upper Body Strength

Basic Practice: Strengthening the Back of the Armpits

sq_basics
In this practice the goal is to strengthen the sides of the body, rather than push from the chest or pinch the shoulder blades together. In all the poses, keep the upper back and chest equally wide. Strengthen the triceps and outer edge of the shoulder blade/armpit area by doing the following:
  • Move the shoulder blades down the back, away from the head.
  • Move them forward, onto the back, while widening the ribs into them, creating strength in the outer armpit.
  • In poses with the arms out to the side or by the head, allow the shoulder blades to move with the arms.
  • In poses with the arms behind the back--Purvottanasana (Intense East Stretch Pose), Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) and Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)--move the shoulder blades towards the chest and away from the upper arms, softening and widening the chest muscles and collar bones.

The Sequence:

Garudasana (Eagle Pose) arms in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with the back against the wall

Side Stretch at wall
• Lean the right side of the body into the wall with the right arm overhead.
• Bend the right elbow, take hold of it with the left hand and draw the arm up and over the top of the head. Hold for a minute or two and repeat on the second side.

Urdhva Baddha Hastasana (Upward Bound Hands Pose) with the back against the wall

Opening Vinyasa:
All Fours
Plank Pose
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Child’s Pose
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Lunge with the back knee up
Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Hopping back and forth between Adho Mukha Shvanasana and Uttanasana 3 or 4 times
Child’s Pose

Parivrtta Parshvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose) simple variation with the hand on the floor and not crossed over the front thigh

Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose) variation with the elbow bent and the forearm on the floor

Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose)

Pashchima Baddha Hastasana (Elbows Clasped Behind the Back) in Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose)

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose) with a block under the pelvis

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose) from the floor
• 2 or 3 attempts.

Pashchima Baddha Hastasana (Elbows Clasped Behind the Back) in Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose)

Purvottanasana (Intense East Stretch Pose) table top tariation with the hands on blocks
• Do the pose twice.

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) with the feet on blocks
• Either hold on to the ankles directly, or loop a belt around them and hold on to that.

Reclined Hip Stretch

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) with the feet on the floor
• Either hold on to the ankles directly, or loop a belt around them and hold on to that.

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2) with the leg resting on a block, blanket or bolster

Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) with the feet on the wall

Jathara Parivartanasana (Belly Turning Pose) soft variation with the hips and waist on the Sarvangasana blankets

Shavasana (Corpse Pose) with a lift under the trunk


Bookmark and Share
|

Basic Practice: Strengthening and Lengthening the Sides of the Torso

sq_basics
In this sequence, consider where the strength of the arms is coming from. Instead of the shoulders and shoulder blades being attached to the neck, think of them as dropping down and being supported by the ribs underneath them. Widen the ribs in the front and back body evenly, reaching the arms from them instead of pushing from the shoulders or the chest. Allow the collar bones and shoulder blades to widen into the arms.

The Sequence:

Side Stretch at the wall
• Stand with the feet together about eight to twelve inches away from the wall and lean the right hip, waist and ribs against it. Reach the right arm up. Pause here for a few breaths.
• Come up onto the balls of the feet. Stay here for a few breaths.
• Slowly drop the right heel, resisting up through the ribs and arms to lengthen out the right side of the waist. When the right heel is down, drop the left.
• Bend the right elbow and clasp it with the left hand. Draw the upper arm bone up towards the ceiling. Hold here for a few breaths.
• Take the tip of the elbow up and over the top of the head while keeping the outer armpit moving into the wall. Hold here for a few breaths.
• Turn the chest a slightly into the middle of the room to send the stretch towards the back. Hold here for a few breaths.
• Release and repeat on the second side.

Garudasana (Eagle Pose) arms with the back against the wall

Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose INTO Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Plank Pose INTO Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Pashchima Baddha Hastasana (Reverse Bound Hands Pose) in Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
• Clasp the elbows behind the back and hold. Do both crossings.

Chaturanga Block Sequence:
[Cycle through these poses, resting the chest on a block in Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose) and pushing it forward to come up into Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose).]

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Plank Pose
Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose)
Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)
• Cycle through these 3 to 5 times.

Utthita Hastasana (Extended Hands Pose)
• Spread the arms in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and hold.

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2)

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Parighasana (Gate Pose)

Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose) with the elbow bent and the forearm on the ground

Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose) with one knee down

Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose)

Purvottanasana (Intense East Stretch Pose) Table Top Variation with the hands on blocks

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) with the feet on blocks

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) with the feet on the floor

Reclined Hip Stretch

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1) with the feet on the wall

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Basic Practice: Upper Body Strength from the Arms, Chest Sides and Back

sq_basics
This practice is all about upper body strength, but not just the strength of the chest, shoulders and arms. In addition, think about supporting the arms and shoulders by detaching them from the neck and allowing them to rest on the rib cage. Expand the ribcage evenly—front and back, left and right—to support the weight of the arms.

The Sequence:

Side Stretch at the wall
• Stand with the feet together about eight to twelve inches away from the wall and lean the right hip, waist and ribs against it. Reach the right arm up. Pause here for a few breaths.
• Come up onto the balls of the feet. Stay here for a few breaths.
• Slowly drop the right heel, resisting up through the ribs and arms to lengthen out the right side of the waist. When the right heel is down, drop the left.
• Bend the right elbow and clasp it with the left hand. Draw the upper arm bone up towards the ceiling. Hold here for a few breaths.
• Take the tip of the elbow up and over the top of the head while keeping the outer armpit moving into the wall. Hold here for a few breaths.
• Turn the chest a slightly into the middle of the room to send the stretch towards the back. Hold here for a few breaths.
• Release and repeat on the second side.

Garudasana (Eagle Pose) arms with the back against the wall

Urdhva Baddha Hastasana (Upward Bound Hands Pose) with the back against the wall

All Fours INTO Child’s Pose

All Fours INTO Child’s Pose INTO Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

All Fours INTO Plank Pose INTO Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart, clasping the elbows

Pashchima Baddha Hastasana (Elbows Clasped Behind the Back) in Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Chaturanga Cycle with Block:
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Plank Pose
Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose)
• Lower down into the pose with the chest resting on a block.
Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)
• From Chaturanga Dandasana, push the block forward with the chest to lift up into the pose.
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• Repeat the whole cycle 3 to 6 times.

Utthita Hasta Padasana (Extended Hands and Feet Pose)
• Pause here for a few moments before moving into the next pose.

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2)

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Parighasana (Gate Pose)

Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose) with the elbow bent

Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose) with the knee on the ground

Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose)

Purvottanasana (Intense East Stretch Pose) table top variation with the hands on blocks

Setu Bandha With the feet on blocks

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1) with the feet on the wall

Shavasana (Corpse Pose) with the torso on a bolster

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Basic Practice: Strengthing the Arms, Back and Sides

sq_basics
The focus of this practice is on strength of the upper body: not only the arms, back and chest, but also on the sides of the body and the muscles that connect the shoulder blades to the back.

As you go through the poses, focus on moving the shoulder blades forward with the arms, pasting them onto the back as you also widen the ribs into the shoulder blades, creating a strong, anchoring seal. All the while, keep the upper back and chest equally wide.

The Sequence:

Side Stretch at the wall
• Stand with the feet together about eight to twelve inches away from the wall and lean the right hip, waist and ribs against it. Reach the right arm up. Pause here for a few breaths.
• Come up onto the balls of the feet. Stay here for a few breaths.
• Slowly drop the right heel, resisting up through the ribs and arms to lengthen out the right side of the waist. When the right heel is down, drop the left.
• Bend the right elbow and clasp it with the left hand. Draw the upper arm bone up towards the ceiling. Hold here for a few breaths.
• Take the tip of the elbow up and over the top of the head while keeping the outer armpit moving into the wall. Hold here for a few breaths.
• Turn the chest a slightly into the middle of the room to send the stretch towards the back. Hold here for a few breaths.
• Release and repeat on the second side.

Urdhva Baddhanguliyasana (Upward Bound Fingers Pose) with the back against the wall

Down Dog Cycle:
[Perform these poses one after the other, holding each for 30 seconds at a time.]

All Fours
Child’s Pose
All Fours
Plank Pose
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Child’s Pose
All Fours
Plank Pose with the toes pointed
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Child’s Pose

Standing Pose Cycle:
[Perform each of these on after the other, going from side to side without returning to Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and without lower the arms throughout the entire sequence.]

Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2)
Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)
Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior Pose 2)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose) variation with the elbow bent

Forearm Stand preparation

Makarasana (Crocodile Pose)

Forearm Stand preparation with second interlock of the fingers

Makarasana (Crocodile Pose) with second interlock of the fingers

Up Dog Cycle:
[Perform these poses one after the other, holding each for 30 seconds at a time.]

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose) with the toes turned under
Plank Pose
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose) on the tops of the feet, with the toes pointed
Plank Pose on the tops of the feet, with the toes pointed
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Child’s Pose

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose) preparation
• Organize yourself as if about to do the pose and brace the body into the floor to take a little weight, but without actually lifting up.

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose) with a block under the pubic bone

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose) with a block under the chest

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose)
• Do the pose twice, resting in between.

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) with the feet on blocks, holding onto a belt around the ankles

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) over a bolster

Viparita Karani (Upside Down Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose) with a lift under the trunk


Bookmark and Share
|