17. Cow Face Arms
This pose/stretch is also known as Gomukhasana. It does require a bit of flexibility in your shoulders. You can easily modify cow face arms if needed.
- Begin in a kneeling position on your mat, sitting on your heels.
- Sit straight up, shoulders back and chest strong.
- Reach your right arm up to the ceiling. Bending at the elbow, let your right hand fall to between your shoulder blades.
- Reach your left arm behind your back. Bend at the elbow and reach your left hand up until you are able to clasp your hands together between your shoulder blades.
- Lean back slightly so that your hands are not putting pressure on your neck.
- Hold this position for up to 5 breaths.
- Release from Gomukhasana slowly and return to the starting position. Repeat for the other side.
18. Standing Forward Fold With Shoulder Opener
As with Gumukhasana, Uttanaasana requires some flexibility in your shoulders. Push your body as far as you are comfortable, and allow yourself to become more flexible over time.
- Begin by standing up straight, feet shoulder-width apart. Clasp your hands behind your back, keeping the arms straight.
- Allow your knees to bend slightly, and lean your upper body forward. Make sure you are bending at the waist and keeping your weight on your heels.
- At the same time, bring your clasped hands up and around, rotating at the shoulders. Allow your shoulders to fall over your upper body towards the floor.
- Hold this position for 5-10 breaths, letting your hands fall closer to the floor with each breath.
19. Shoulder Opener at Wall
This pose requires less flexibility than the previous two, and is much more relaxing overall.
- Raise your arms to the wall – below shoulder height -- resting your forearms parallel to each other and shoulder-width apart.
- Step back, keeping your forearms on the wall, until your elbows are at just about the same height as your hips.
- Let your head relax down between your arms, and stay in this position for 5 breaths.
- Climb your hands back up the wall, stepping towards the wall until you are comfortable to stand up straight.
20. Seated Spinal Twist
This pose is designed to release tension and improve flexibility throughout your spine. Do not force the twist – allow your body to move deeper into the twist with each deep breath.
- Begin in a seated position with your legs straight in front of you.
- Bend your right knee up and move your right leg over the left, until your right foot is on the outside of your left knee.
- (Optional) Bend your left leg under the right until your left foot is resting near your buttocks.
- Twist your torso so that your left arm moves around your right leg. Move your left elbow onto the outside of your right knee if you can. Rest your right hand on the ground near your sacrum.
- Stay in this twist for 5 breaths, twisting further over with each exhale.
- Slowly reverse twist out of the post and repeat on the other side.