Increase Shoulder Flexibility With This Mountain Pose Sequence
Here is a traditional vinyasa krama yoga sequence from the teachings of Krishnamacharya the “father of modern yoga”. This sequence combines the grounding pose tadasana (mountain pose) with different arm exercises. This is a great exercise for the morning and to prepare for yoga arm binds.
Start in tadasana at the front of your mat. Make sure the big toes are touching. Check your alignment. You want the shoulder blades flat and pressing down. The neck long and shoulders dropped. Use the Jalandhara bandha (chin lock) technique by tucking the chin slightly into the chest and breathing with the mouth closed and a hiss on the exhale.
1. First Movement:
- Inhale, bring the arms above the head. Interlock the fingers. Press the palms towards the ceiling.
- Alignment: pull up the ribcage from your hips, lengthening through your sides as you raise your arms.
- As you exhale, slowly lower your arms by your sides. This will be a foundational movement that repeats; you can even call it a mini vinyasa within the whole sequence.
- Maintain ‘Jalandhara bandha’ chin lock.
- Repeat arm movement. Breathe in as you raise the arms and interlock the hands above your head. Exhale, lower your arms by your sides.
- On the next cycle, stay in the interlocking hand position for three deep breaths. Exhale and bring the arms down.
- Take a deep breath.
2. Second Movement:
- Inhale, sweep the arms parallel in front of you and up. Bring the arms above the head. Stretch up through your fingertips.
- Exhale, slowly lower your arms by your sides.
- Repeat four more times.
3. Third Movement:
- Inhale, raise your arms out and up above the head.
- Interlock the fingers and press palms towards the ceiling.
- Exhale, bend at the elbows, bring your hands behind your head with the palms facing the ceiling.
- Inhale, stretch your arms above the head. Exhale and slowly lower your arms by your sides. Maintain the Ujjayi breath throughout the exercise.
- Repeat with ujjayi breath four more times. Hold the breath for two breaths during the last arm raise.
4. Fourth Movement:
This movement is great for expanding your chest and improving your breathing apparatus.
- Inhale, raise your arms out and above the head and interlock the hands. Then exhale, bend at the elbows and bring your palms on the shoulder blades.
- Inhale, stretch your arms above the head. Exhale, lower your arms by your sides.
- Alignment: To maintain alignment, tuck the ribs in if they stick out, as you raise your arms up. Also, tuck your tailbone down, to lengthen through your lower back.
- Repeat, but hold the hands and inhale for five counts. Exhale out, but keep the palms in position Count five breaths on the next inhalation.
- Inhale, stretch the arms up. Exhale, arms sweep down to your sides.
5. Fifth movement:
Same as above with the hands on opposite shoulder blades.
6. Sixth Movement:
- Cross your arms in front of you. Exhale, sweep arms out to the sides at shoulder level.
- Exhale and bring them back in front of you
- With ujjayi breath, repeat.