2010 has been a tough year for many. People are working harder than ever (if they are lucky enough to have a job) with less pay, fewer benefits and uncertainty about their job security. It has truly been a stressful grind for our minds, bodies and spirits.
As optimistic as I am, the New Year is likely to be more of the same. But we must remain positive in spite of the challenges we all face, and take the time to nurture ourselves and others. We must also acknowledge the efforts we’ve made this past year and consider the blessings we do have in our lives.
I offer you the empowering and self-soothing suggestion to literally take a bow of acknowledgment, gratitude and self-care. The Yoga Tune Up® pose that I have outlined below works wonders to drop your blood pressure, un-kink the troublesome trapezius, refresh the suboccipital muscles of the neck and improve circulation to the brain! If 2010 has been a pain in the neck, let this pose loosen you up and “unclog” any trapped congestion near your precious mind. (By the way, this pose is also really helpful if you talk a lot on your cell phone!)
“Take a Bow” Pose
1) Reach your arms behind you, palms facing inward, holding a yoga brick, strap or long water bottle between your hands.
2) Squeeze the shoulder blades together and boost your chest forward.
3) Separate your feet about 2-3 feet apart.
4) Raise the block as high up as possible behind you, then bend the knees and fold the body forward to encourage the block to rainbow over your head and down towards the floor.
5) Allow your shoulder blades and arms to migrate into the back of the neck, with the shoulder bones sliding towards the ears. Imagine the brick becoming heavier and heavier.
6) Keep the knees bent for 5 breaths, then straighten them to the degree that feels “comfortable” for the next 3-5 breaths.
7) Slowly release the brick and roll back to standing.
Taking a bow is a whole-body symbol of appreciation, reverence and respect. Submit yourself to the sensation of these feelings while you are in the pose:
1) Breathe in gratitude and release the feeling of being burdened.
2) Breathe in awareness of the present moment and release the feeling of being overwhelmed by duties.
3) And finally, breathe in “possibility” and breathe out “negativity.”
2011 awaits, and you will be magnificently prepared to be present for all of it!
[reprinted with permission from Gaiam Life.]
Learn about the YTU Therapy Ball Products
Watch the QuickFix Online Videos
I love this! What a unique and deep shoulder opener and stress reliever! I especially loved, the “appreciate yourself” section. As we go deeper into our shoulders and release all of the negative energies or stress that have been stored there, what time is better to fill that space with positive reinforcement. Thank you!
Just read the posts here, To address one about the strap. I find using a swimming pool diving ring to hold onto, gives the perfect amount of additional length lacking for many. I like the symbolism in the explanation, it takes the pose to a deeper place for me. In class today I felt I had a breakthrough with the instruction and appropriate direction of scapula depression, retraction, abduction, and working through the steps taking the time to feel each step and each moment of change in the joints.. rather than focusing on the end point of how far are my shoulder going to let me go today? How refreshing to learn a more effective and meaningful way!
I tried this pose just now and really felt that it helped to clear my mind mentally and physically felt great. I felt that it released the tension stored in my neck and shoulders along with my back. Today we studied the yoga sutras and learned that if one has a negative thought than this should be replaced by positivity within the same situation. The breathing exercise at the end of the post resonated with the “breath out negativity.”
I love this pose and been doing to it for years. After learning it in YTU Teacher Training Jill talked about letting the trapezius drop down. Usually in poses you are either retracting or pressing down through the shoulder girdle. What a comfort to just let gravity to its thing and take you deeper into the pose.
I love this pose as it is so calming for the nervous system getting fresh blood to the brain. Nothing seems as bad even after holding it for just 1-2 minutes. I too got a breakthrough with this when I learned that the shoulders could hold hands with gravity and allow them to hang as freely as possible. One bad habits in my body history is to hunch shoulders – why? they don’t make good earings and who wants a shorter neck….So, this is great progress.
I’ve just learned that pose today even though I’ve been doing it before but in a slightly different way. I would do as a preparation for Sirsasana focusing on keeping the neck long and moving the shoulders away from the ears.
Today Jill focused on releasing the shoulders down closer to the floor. This help a lot to soften my upper trapezius muscles are tend to always overwork.
After practicing for over 15 years, I had a breakthrough in this pose just last year! I realized “after all these years” that my hand clasp behind my back was isometrically contracting my shoulders and preventing them from “releasing” into the posture. Well, once I figured this out, it was grossly apparent how much my own strength has been holding me back. Then in today’s YTU teacher training, I also learned that my trapezius muscles have also been over-working in this pose, as I depress my shoulders while extending back.
Aha! Double whammy. I’m growing into the truth that my previous snowboarding shoulder injuries have caused me to really overprotect and over control my shoulder movements. I’m looking forward to 2011’s shoulder work: relax the shoulders, self-treat with the Tune Up Balls and rebuild my supraspinatus. My sincere thanks, Jill.
I love wide legged forward fold! This pose helps to relieve all the stress out of my neck and shoulders… Often times when I think I cant go any further, my teacher will come along and with my hands clasped will push me a little deeper. Reminding myself to breathe this pose allows me to bow to myself and just be!
Accepting yourself, taking care of yourself, setting and embodying the intension. As well as learning all about our bodies and learning how to teach a kick ass class, these are the things I learned in YTU training. Thank you and namaste!
Taking a bow and allowing the chopping massage we experienced in YTUTT today was an active way to accept with gratitude the pose of self love/ wwith alot of help from friends/ many thanks colleagues!!!!
I have had shoulder surgery and I have lost some mobility in my shoulder so this pose has been much harder for me now. Using a block or something to give me more space between my hands, helps to increase my ability to release into the posture with more ease.
O.K. I have done this pose in different ways. Holding the block between the hands is my leas favorite (I am being polite here) I have no problem interdigitating (ha, I just learned something new the other day…), even clasping the hands. Holding a block is brutal. I have decided to use the strap – not holding it with my hands though. I make a small loop – the size of the brick – and put my wrists in it – the palms face each other, as if the y held the brick. I play with pressing against the loop and then I let go. Perhaps some time soon I will shift the perspective and fall in love with the block between the hands in Prasarita C.