Being an esthetician, I work for many hours a week with elbows raised almost to shoulder height and sitting with my hips in forward flexion. This is also common for anyone who works at a desk or spends hours at a time driving. For many people this can result in painfully tight chest muscles and limited hip mobility. Thankfully there are some yoga poses that can really help to ease the tension and bring balance into our bodies. I’ve compiled together a sequence of yoga poses to bring the shoulders and hips in a backward flexion to counteract the forward flexion our bodies endure for hours.
Begin in Childs Pose and take a few deep breaths. When you’re ready, come onto all fours, wrists under shoulders, knees under hips for Cat/Cow. Inhale to arch the spine and gaze up towards the ceiling, exhale to round the spine and gaze towards navel. Repeat Cat/Cow as many times as you’d like.
Next, come into a Downward Facing Dog, with hips up high and engaged though the core. Pedal out the feet and inhale the right leg up towards the sky for Three-Legged Dog. Stepping the right foot through between the hands, bring both arms overhead for Crescent Lunge. Breathing here for 3 full breaths, really sinking into the left hip (this is the hip opener). Clasping the hands behind, we are getting ready for the chest opener.
Leading with the heart, bring the right shoulder towards the right knee, sending the hands upwards toward the sky. Stay here for 5 full deep breaths, still lunging deep into the right knee.
Coming back into crescent lunge, we will come into a spinal twist. On an exhale, twist towards the right, gazing back towards the right hand for a balance challenge. Inhale to lengthen the spine, exhale to twist for 2 more breaths.
After the twist, come into Warrior One, and press through the right heel to come into the balancing pose, Warrior Three. Staying balanced for 3 breaths and then returning to Warrior One. Hands come down to frame the right foot and right foot steps back up towards the sky for Three Legged Dog. Exhale into Downward Facing Dog. Repeat entire sequence on the left side. Do each side 2-3 more times and when you’re done, return to Child’s Pose for 5 breaths.
If you go through this sequence just a few times a week, you will notice greater range of motion in the hip joint and less tension in the chest. This can also be done at the end of a strength training workout to stretch the muscles.