You probably spend hours hunched over a computer every day, your back and shoulders rounding, uncomfortably, towards the screen. As a former professional cyclist, Scott Harig understands.
“If you look at my back, it actually has a roundness to it from being on a bike all my life,” he says, a condition most desk-dwellers can relate to.
“When I became a yogi, one of the first things I did was to learn to open my chest and shoulders up.”
You’ll feel this in Harig’s flowing Ashtanga-based vinyasa classes, where sun salutations and backbends abound.
Try a class with us this July and then follow his chest-and-shoulder-opening sequence at home…
1. Side Bow (Parsva dhanurasana) Variation
This riff on side bow pose is a Scott Harig original, but before you get into it (or any other pose), Harig says you should always warm up with three sun salutations. When you’ve completed those, start this pose by laying on your stomach. Take your right hand out to the side, and slide your hips over to the right slightly. Put your left hand on the mat underneath your shoulder and roll your body gently onto your right side. Repeat on the other side.
2. Supported Bridge
Rounding in the back makes it hard to open up the chest and shoulders, and backbends help take care of that. Harig suggests using supported bridge to warm up the lower back before moving into a more intense backbend, like wheel or camel (on the next slide).
Lay on your back with your feet planted on the floor. Roll your spine up off the mat one vertebrae at a time, lifting your chest up, and then place a block underneath your lower back. Stay here for five breaths before removing the block and then rolling your spine back down.
This is one of Harig’s favorite backbends. Kneel on the mat with your knees hip distance apart and your toes tucked under. Place your hands on your lower back. Then, move the chest forward and the shoulders down and back. Reach for your ankles for a deeper shoulder opener, or choose the variation shown if you can’t quite reach.
While many teachers suggest pressing your hips forward in this post, Harig cautions against it. “You end up crunching your back. You actually want to focus on pulling the navel in, dropping the pelvic floor down, and really focus on opening up in the chest.”
Want to learn to open your shoulders and chest directly from the master? Join us—and Scott Harig—for a very special yoga and beauty event at Pure Yoga on Thursday, July 26.