upcoming retreat… and postures for your shoulders

greetings friends!  i am back from my vacation out east and feeling very refreshed and well rested.  i’d like to think it had something to do with my application of all those travel tips… but it could have been the hours i spent napping and watching the world cup games on my in-laws couch!

before i get to today’s yoga lesson… i want to let you all know about my upcoming retreat.  jeremy and i will be leading a weekend of gentle and restorative yoga, qi gong, self-massage, singing bowls and more, up in calistoga september 10-12, 2010.  it’s a lovely retreat center that serves some of the most amazing tasting food you’ll ever eat.  for more info, or to register, you can email me at vanessav@vanessaverlee.com  — also here’s the link to the invitation for it on facebook…

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/event.php?eid=142610912421245&ref=ts

or, for those of you not on facebook… just email me and i’ll email you all the details.

now… here a couple of my favorite poses for releasing tension in the shoulders.  i suggest doing them in this order… or, if you just have a couple of minutes, 1/2 eagle pose (the second one) is a great one to do throughout your day to keep the creeping shoulders away from your ears!

to come into this gomukhasana…

1. start sitting on some support (a yoga block works  well, but a folded blanket or narrow couch cushion could work too.  bring the right foot to the outside of the left hip. cross the left leg on top of the right, so the left foot lands near the right hip.  if possible line up the knees on top of one another, but if that causes pain, or too intense of a stretch, keep the right foot on the floor, and the top of the knee facing the ceiling.

2. lift the right arm in the air, hoping a strap (a belt or tie will work).  take the left arm behind the body and grab the other end of the strap (if your hands reach each other easily, without having to round your spine, then you can forgo the strap.

3. lift chest, bring ribcage in and breath.  to stretch the neck, look slowly toward the left side of the room, stopping as soon as you feel a stretch.  then, bring the head back to neutral and bring the left ear very slowly toward the left shoulder, keeping the gaze forward, throat relaxed and shoulders passive.

4.  to deepen the stretch in the hip, come off of the support and/or release arms and slowly come into a forward bend. hinging at the hips.

5. hold the pose for 2-5 minutes and then repeat on the other side.

ARDHA GARUDASANA: 1/2 eagle pose

to come into ardha garduasana:

1. stand with your legs wider than hip distance apart (about mat width, if you are using a yoga mat).

2. draw the right arm in front of the body (straight and at a diagonal with the palm facing up) and place the left arm, in the same position, directly on over the  right, like an “X”.  make the cross of the “X” as high up the arms as you can.

3. bend both elbows, so that the fingertips are facing up toward the ceiling.

4. if possible, make contact with the palms – or, at least the fingers of the right hand on the palm of the left, or whatever contact you can make.

5. keeping your arms like this, come into a forward bend. (bend knees if there is any pain in the back or back of the legs

6. breathe in to your upper back and neck for about one minutes

7. come up, with knees bent, and arms still in this position.  raise arms a little higher on the inhale, then exhale thru the mouth, letting the arms extend out to the sides – imagining that you are throwing all the tension from your shoulders and upper back out.

8. shake out your body and repeat on the other side.