Last week, in part one of our video series, Yoga For Athletic Guys, we focused on the foundations and breathing involved in yoga. In part two we focus on the upper body with stretches for the wrists, forearms, neck, and shoulders. Give these a try right now – feel what a difference stretching and breathing can make.
Wrist stretch #1: Extend one arm out, grab the little finger with the opposite hand. Inhale a deep diaphragmatic breath. Exhale, stretch the finger back. Do 10-15 breaths per finger.
Wrist stretch #2: Extend the arms out to the side, fingers point up. Inhale a deep diaphragmatic breath. Exhale, curl the fingers into fist and point the knuckles toward the floor.
Relax the neck: Inhale a deep diaphragmatic breath. Exhale, ease the head to side, keep the ear in line with the shoulder. To get a deeper stretch, bring the arm up and rest it on the head. Don't pull on the neck. Take 5-10 deep breaths while keeping the neck and shoulders relaxed. To stretch a different area of the neck, tilt the chin towards the chest. To come up, relax the head neck, let the chin move towards the chest, use the palm of one hand on the forehead to bring the head up.
Shoulder shrugs: Inhale, bring the shoulders up by the ears, squeeze the upper trapezius muscles together; exhale, keep squeezing the upper traps, pull the shoulder blades down the back. Relax the back as you inhale again. Exhale, squeeze the shoulder blades together, straight back, and down. Inhale, let the breath spread through the upper back. Exhale, squeeze the lower tip of the shoulder blades together (this is like moving to touch your elbows together behind the back).
Upper back & shoulder stretch: Use one hand to stretch the other (straight) arm towards the chest. Keep the shoulders down. To get a deeper stretch, cross the arms and wrists around each other. It's more importuned to keep the shoulders down than it is to wrap the arms.
Chest expansion: Interlace the hands behind the back. If your shoulders feel really tight, try using a towel. Keep the elbows slightly bent. Open the chest by moving the hands away from the body.