Yoga for Writers #3
* HEALTH FOR WRITERS series
By JEANAN GLAZIER
Shoulders. Whether you carry the weight of the world on them, or just the weight of your own world, shoulders often get the brunt of your stress. Here are some ways to lighten up your shoulders. You may do these stretches seated at your desk or standing up, feet hip-width apart.
Refer back to the previous Yoga for Writers article about the neck. The stretches described for the sides of the neck also stretch the tops of the shoulders. Repeat the stretches. In your mind’s eye, picture the tops of your shoulders instead of the sides of your neck. You won’t be sorry.
Don’t forget good, old shoulder rolls. Roll them forward three times, then roll them backward three times. Lift your shoulders to your ears, as if you could touch your ears with your shoulders. Then drop the shoulders, pulling them down slightly below normal shoulder level. Repeat three times.
Now try this: drop your chin on your chest, tucking your chin into your collarbone. Let your spine relax until it curves a little bit, kind of like a comma. Rest here. Breathe. As you inhale through your nose, imagine the breath traveling from the roof of your mouth all the way down to the tip of your tailbone. As you exhale, imagine the breath traveling the same path in the opposite direction, allowing the breath to flow out of your nostrils. Let your shoulders relax more with each exhalation. When you’re ready, inhale and slowly roll up, gradually straightening your spine.
Time for the grand finale: Pick up a ruler. Or use your belt. Or a scarf. Take this item in your left hand. Raise your left arm over your head, next to your left ear. Bend your left elbow as much as you can, and allow the item in your hand to dangle down behind your back. Now, reach up behind your back with your right arm, bending the right elbow, and try to grab hold of the item with your right hand.
Once you’re holding the ruler, belt, or scarf with both hands…relax. If your hands are in a death grip, relax them. Relax your face. Relax your shoulders. Breathe. Stay here for as long as you like, or as long as you are comfortable. When you’ve had enough, release the right hand. Lower and straighten your right arm. Then straighten your left arm, and lower it down. Place your ruler, belt, or scarf on your desk. Shake out your arms and hands. Repeat the pose, reversing your arms, right hand holding the item, and the left arm reaching up behind your back. When you are finished, shake out your arms and hands again.
This pose promotes flexibility in the shoulders. It also discourages a “dowager’s hump” in the upper spine, and encourages good posture.
Last but not least: place your right hand on your left shoulder. Massage. Place your left hand on your right shoulder. Massage. Oh, by the way, it is completely okay to ask someone to do this for you.
DISCLAIMER: These exercises are not a substitute for medical advice. Consult your physician before attempting these or any other exercise program. Romance Divas and Jeanan Glazier disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the exercises herein.
JEANAN GLAZIER attended her first yoga class when she was fifteen. (This was 1974 for anyone who is counting!) As a student of jazz dance and the only teenager in a class of women aged 30-45, Jeanan began observing how yoga poses fit different bodies and individual levels of ability. Jeanan received teacher certification in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga in 2001. She has taught classes and provided private yoga instruction in Ohio and Florida. Jeanan has enjoyed many fitness activities from running and rock climbing to her current challenge: aqua aerobics. However, yoga continues to be her one constant activity.
As a writer of contemporary and young adult fiction, Jeanan not only knows where the body feels the hours spent in front of a computer or hunched over a desk, but also the yoga poses which can bring relief to the stiffness and soreness. Jeanan believes wholeheartedly that a more flexible body creates a more flexible mind. Yoga can give the imagination a tweak, maybe even a tune-up. What writer wouldn’t appreciate this benefit?!