Humming Bird

Simple and focused, these three “winged” exercises help to release knots and dispel tightness in your shoulders and upper back. They’ll also help you develop strong, toned arms.

Circles

  1. Stand with your feet together or slightly apart. Lift your chest as you straighten your back. Tuck your tailbone slightly to avoid overarching your lower back.
  2. Inhale as you raise your arms to shoulder level, palms up.
  3. Exhale as you bring your fingertips to your shoulders.
  4. Make forward circles with your elbows. Start with small circles, then gradually make the circles bigger if comfortable, bringing your elbows together if you can. Breathe normally throughout. Repeat 10 to 20 times, then come back to center.
  5. Now repeat, doing 10 to 20 circles in the opposite direction, starting with small circles and making them progressively larger if comfortable. Keep your fingertips on your shoulders when you finish the set.

Back & Forth

  1. Keeping your upper arms at shoulder level, move your elbows back and forth, starting with small movements, then gradually making them bigger.
  2. Inhale as you press your elbows back, expanding your chest. Exhale as you bring your elbows together, reaching them forward to increase the stretch between your shoulder blades.
  3. Repeat 10 times. Keep your fingertips on your shoulders when you finish the set.

Up & Down

  1. Now move your elbows up and down, starting with small movements, then gradually making them bigger.
  2. Inhale as you raise your elbows upward. Try to touch the backs of your hands together behind your neck without bringing your head forward. Exhale as you lower your elbows, pressing your upper arms against the sides of your torso and stretching your shoulders down. Repeat 10 times.
  3. 3. Open your arms and lower them to your sides. Relax your neck, chest, upper back, shoulders, arms, and fingers.

Hints

  • You can do this asana a few times before sleeping to help release the day’s tension. Or try it at your desk if you feel tension starting to build.
  • Whether sitting or standing, be sure to keep your chest lifted and your back straight throughout the exercise.
  • Be aware of your upper back and shoulder muscles being massaged and loosened by the movements of your shoulder blades.
  • Don’t worry if tension in your shoulders, arms, and neck makes it difficult to move your elbows in big, smooth circles. Making smaller movements will gradually release tension and balance the muscle groups around the shoulders, eventually allowing you a fuller range of motion.

Benefits

  • Helps improve your posture
  • Helps relieve neck, shoulder, and upper back tension
  • Strengthens and defines your upper arms
  • Encourages deep breathing

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