Sometimes in yoga we have the notion that we must achieve Cirque du Soleil-type poses when kindergarten-level ability does the trick.
Got tight shoulders and back (and who doesn’t these days)? Yes, you could do some yoga-calendar-worthy stuff that’ll hit the spot. Or you could try the following easy two-pose combination to first overload your upper back muscles and then lengthen, rotate and stretch everything:
1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight and your heels jutting out.
2. Turn to your right, place your hands on the floor (to the right of your legs) and drop your chest to almost touching the floor. Think “seated sideways push-up position” or “Now, where the hell did my contact lens go?”
3. Stay for three slow breaths and when you sit up, leave your right hand exactly where it was on the floor.
4. Now swing your left arm around the back and place your left hand as close to your right hand as possible. You’ll be leaning slightly backward and to the right. Keep your back straight and turn your head and your shoulders as far to your left as comfortable.
5. Stay for five slow breaths. Then repeat all the steps on the other side.
It’s that simple.
Benefits: An effective, everybody-can-do-this stretch that’s gentle enough to do several times a day (if needed) at work or at home.
Avoid if: Okay, not everybody can do this. If you’ve got wrist issues (arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, sore wrists in general) then you might need to skip this pose combination. On the other hand (no pun intended), if you have those issues but can still achieve either position without triggering pain or discomfort, then have at it.
Final thoughts: For some reason I hear people breaking wind a lot in the first position. But hey, what can you do?