Most of the time, I pretty much ignore my armpits. They only really get a second thought when I need to shave ’em, wash ’em, or apply a few swipes of aluminum-free deodorant. Apparently I’ve been neglecting an important body part for far too long. Just ask physical therapist and yoga teacher Lara Heimann, who tells me that so much of the shoulder tension sparked by desk-slouching can be remedied by elongating the muscles beneath your armpits.
Stretching the armpits out on a yoga block targets the fascia, an interwoven system of connective tissues found throughout the body. Heimann says the complex network acts as the body’s no holds barred diary entry. It’s believed to store pent up emotions, memories, and (you guessed it) a whole lot of tension. Sliding onto a block to release the congested energy from that area helps the entire rotator cuff—and thus your entire body—function seamlessly.
“When we think about anatomy, we sometimes think very one-dimensionally, as if our body’s like a piece of paper,” says Heimann. In reality the collection of muscles attaching the pectoral rib cage region to the scapula wraps 360 degrees around your bod like an ultra-supportive sports bra. “There’s a set of muscles that travel from one side of the ribs to the other in that pectoral-rib cage region, which is the armpit area,” she says.
Rounding the shoulders forward as we stare into our many screens causes the muscles to shorten up and become creaky. (Trying to do a simple downward dog may feel like a true feat of flexibility.) A little one on one time with a yoga block can re-elongate the cramped musculature.
To iron out your cramped armpits, simply grab a block—preferably of the soft, foam variety—and place it on the lowest height. Lie down on one side and slide your armpit over the prop so the bottom sits right above your rib cage. Slowly sink your weight into the block so you’re feeling sensation without feeling pain. Rest here for a few long breaths, then switch sides.
Don’t be too surprised if the position makes you feel like Drake. (You know, in your feelings.) As previously mentioned, the fascia holds deep-seated physical and mental matter in the body. The armpits will take you to a deeper place, everyone.
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