16 Jun BEGINNER+ PRACTICE #3
Namaste Goa Flow-er(s)
We are moving on up in the Beginner+ series and already we’re at Practice #3.
Having fun yet?. Let me know how the series is helping and supporting you.
Practice #3 is a Total Body Goa Flow with focus on opening your upper body and shoulders while strengthen your arms, legs and moving from your breath and core. Sounds like a handful? In a way it is, but in a good way with many positive side affects.
Life can be a handful, at times, but if you have tools to help and you allow yourself to perspective when needed you can use the challenges to make yourself stronger, more mindful and enduring. Believing that you have endless possibility inspires me and is the motivation behind this flow. When the going gets tough, do the opposite: relax and soften.
It might sound counter-intuitive. But, with practice, it works!
Think about this: It’s “easy” to relax and soften when we feel relaxed and chilling on the sofa watching Netflix. It’s not so easy to relax and soften when we are dealing with the stresses of every day life. But that’s where the yoga practice can really help. It’s a practice. The more aware you become of the tools that can help you soften and relax (when the going gets tough) the more tension free you can be; at all times.
We all want that. No?
In Practice #3 i share a flow that weaves 5 tools (or areas) that, (if you integrate them on and off the yoga mat) can makes a huge difference in whether your neck and shoulders are filled with tension filled or free from tension.
Here they are.
My 5 tools to help you flow with tension free neck and shoulders on and off the yoga mat :
- Posture // Good posture is essential. You know good posture when you see it. Imitate good posture for yourself, if you find yourself slouching. Your mantra is: Sit tall. Stand tall.
Align your head over your shoulders, shoulders over your pelvis, pelvis over your heels and your body will be aligned. When your body is aligned it takes less energy and effort for your body to move you around and thrive.
Your head weighs about 10 lbs, and for every degree your head leans forward it adds 5-10 lbs to the weight of your head. That extra weight can create a lot of tension in the jaw, neck and shoulders. As you practice yoga you also become aware of what muscles are weak and which ones are tight. Over time you find a balance between them. So pay close attention to this as you practice and over time you will improve on your posture (if it is needed).
- Breathe // The breath is our lifeline in the Goa Flow practice. Breath is movement, movement is breath. Staying connected to your breath is an instant stress reliever. Take one full inhale and exhale and automatically your shoulders will drop and your mind will calm down.
- Support // Whatever touches the ground is your support system and your foundation. If you stand on your feet, it’s your legs. If you are on your hands, it’s your arms etc. It’s important to use your support system. If you find your arms, legs and/or back muscles a bit sore the next day (or two days after) after practicing Practice ## it might be a sign you are in need of more strength to support your posture.
- Core // Having a strong and supple mid-section or core is very important to feel connection; to yourself and what you are participating in whether it be on or off the yoga mat.
Moving from your core (or your centre) makes all the difference because you end up looking like you are moving as a connected unit versus a disconnected one. There is a lightness and connection is the flow, as well as what we call effortless effort. Surely there is effort in practicing yoga on or off the mat, but the key is to make it more effortless. It’s always going to be hard, but the key is to try to make it a bit easier.
By moving from your core you will find yourself using and engaging your support system better (your legs, arms, breath, posture) and that will inhibit tension build up in the neck and shoulders.
- Non-attachment // On the 8 limbed Path; we try to practice non-attachment, or Aparigraha. Aparigraha is about letting go of limiting beliefs, greed, or attachment(s) to things/people/outcomes. The less attached we are the more we reduce stress in our life. A big practice for sure.
Most of the time when i notice i am getting tight in my neck, shoulders and jaw is when i am attached to a certain outcome. I notice my mind tenses up and it trickles down into all the areas i have mentioned above. When i catch my self in this mental space, i take a full inhale and complete exhale visualizing myself letting go of the attachment. Automatically my shoulders soften.
It’s not easy to let go, often times it takes time to fully let something go, but
first step is being aware of it, breathe and mindfully release it, and often as you need to, for a long as you need to. Happy Practice 🙂
I hope these tools can support you on and off the yoga mat. I would love to hear if any of this resonates at all.
Below you will find some illustrations [i found on Pinterest] of some of the yoga poses we do in this Goa Flow and the muscles that are involved. You will also find the link to the video on YouTube.
Love, Light & Eternal Flow,
Anita Goa 🙂
Often when you practice flow and transition from pose to pose you might find your shoulders elevated (lifted toward your ears). Each time you find yourself doing this think of depressing them (drawing them down and away from your ears into your shoulder sockets).
When you do cat pose or draw knee to elbow you will be protracting your shoulder blades (scapula). In the video i refer to ‘wrap your shoulder blades into your arm pits.’ This is helpful to strengthen the serratus muscle (also an illustration below)
MUSCLES INVOLVED IN PRACTICE #3
COMMON YOGA STRETCHES FOR OPENING SHOULDERS
Eagle pose arms:
Cow’s face arms:
Fingers interlaces behind the back:
The Serratus muscle [that i briefly mentioned in the flow] is important to strengthen since it helps stabilise the scapula (shoulder blades):