Move to Meditate Artwork
Season 4 - Episode 4

Shoulder Opening Flow

40 min - Practice


Create space through the shoulders and open the heart. We will flow through modified Sun Salutations, and focus into Warrior 3 with Gomukhasana (Cow Face) Arms, Prayer Pose, and Standing Half Happy Baby. We then seep into a 9-minute guided meditation, syncing the breath with the heart beat. You will feel open and relaxed.

A strap may be helpful for this class.

What You'll Need: Mat, Strap, Block (2)


Read Full Transcript

Hi and welcome back. I'm so excited to share this shoulder opening, heart space opening flow with you today. Let's get started. So you'll need your two blocks and we're going to come into a pose called bhishmasana or a bed of nails. And you'll set your blocks up like this. So one is going to go lengthwise to the top of the mat and the other one will go a little bit below it. This bottom one goes right in between your shoulder blades with the bottom edge of the block in line with the bottom edge of your shoulder blade. You don't want to have it too low or too high so it might take a little wiggling. You could place this one on a higher setting depending on what feels better for your neck. You'll know pretty quickly when you get into it. It's quite an intense pose. So let's go ahead and turn around and start to lower the upper body down onto that bottom block. Remember the bottom edge of it is in line with the shoulder blade and then that top block is right for that bump the back of the head. It's nice to take the legs straight or you could keep the knees bent starting with palms face up. Take a big breath. Nice big exhale. Softening the heart space around the blocks. And then you'll reach your arms right around your ears and grab a hold of your elbows or the forearm. Tugging gently against the elbows or the forearm. Breathe deep. Feeling the ribs in that space. I call it the roots of the arms pressing against the block. One more big breath. Then cross your other arm on top. So the second side there. Begin to let the wrists, the forearms, descend to the floor behind you. Outer armpits wrapping up and forward. I think of this pose as like dental floss for your shoulder blades. This will be your last big breath here. Let's release the arms to come off the blocks. You can bend your knees. Try to preserve this opening that you've created in your chest. So you'll place your hands on the mat. Bring the chin in and then lift yourself up and right at the top really lift your heart up. We can take the blocks to the side keeping them handy though. We'll use them again and go ahead and roll all the way onto your back. Allow the neutral curves of the spine to hit the mat. You can draw your knees in and then we'll start a little rock and roll up and down. Maybe a little hover at the top and get ready to rock all the way up on this one to your standing forward fold Uttanasana. Big breath in and a big exhale. Let's go ahead and come all the way up to standing, raising those arms up overhead as you inhale. Exhaling your arms down to the sides of your body. On this inhale raise your arms and press the hands back and down. Breathing out and you'll interlace your fingers behind you and you can just stay here or you could spin the knuckles up against your sacrum. Bringing the tailbone down, lifting the heart up, squeezing the elbows in the shoulders. Nice breath. Exhale, a little bend in the knees. Bring the knuckles overhead. Inhaling into Utkatasana or chair pose. Pull the mat apart with your feet. Sit a little lower. One more breath. Exhale, folding forward. Inhale halfway up. Exhale, step back to plank. Lower halfway down. Chaturanga. Inhaling into up dog and exhale all the way into down dog. Inhale, step your right foot forward. Warrior one. Exhale, bring your hands to your heart. Interlace your fingers for bound finger pose. So spin the palms forward then up. We'll spend a couple moments. Pull the mat apart with your feet. Lifting the skin of the pubic plate. Squeeze your elbows together. Feel the ribs come in. Heart opening. One more big breath. And on the exhale, hands to mat. Left hand down, right arm up. Twist. Take a breath in. Exhale, right hand to mat and step back into a figure four down dog. So you'll take this right foot and place it right over your left knee. You can bend your left knee here. Big flex in the right foot. Feel your sitting bones lifting up and back. One more breath. And as you inhale, you'll step that right foot up coming all the way to the top of the mat.

Exhale, fold. Inhale up to standing. Second side. Exhale, hands back and down. Interlace with the other finger on top. So it should feel a little bit weird. And you can stay here or spin your knuckles up against the sacrum. Take a breath to lift the heart. Moving the middle tailbone in. And as you exhale, a little bend in the knees, arms overhead. Chair pose, inhale. And exhale, straighten the legs and fold. Halfway up, inhale. Exhale, step back to plank and lower into Chaturanga. Up dog on the breath in. And down dog, exhale. Inhale, left foot up, warrior one, coming all the way up. Exhale, hands to heart. Interweave, other thumb on top. Spin the palms forward and inhale, hands up. Let's spend a few breaths here really splitting the mat with the feet, lifting the skin of the pubic plate, trying to roll the thumb side of the wrist up. One more big breath. And as you exhale, release. Right hand down for twist, left arm comes up, nice big breath in. Exhaling, deepening the twist. And let's inhale, left hand to mat, step the left foot back and cross it right over the right knee for a figure four in down dog. You're welcome to bend your right knee a lot to really get into that left hip. The sitting bones lifting up and back like little daggers. Inhale, step the left foot up, look forward. Exhale, right foot needs left. Strap time. So go ahead and grab your strap and you'll come all the way up to standing. We're gonna hold this strap in between the thumb and the first finger, keeping the wrists in line with the arms. Strap goes overhead, breathing. Exhale, pull the strap to the back of the heart. Inhaling up and exhaling across the front of the heart. Inhale up. Exhale, hold right where it burns, right in the burny spot. Breathe into it. Just being present with what is. And then I'd like you to drop that right arm down, lifting the left one up, looking up at your left hand. And exhale through center. Other side. Big breath in, looking up at the right hand, left hand pulls down. Exhale through center. One last breath and pass the strap back through. Let's put the strap neatly to the side. You may use it again and come into Tadasana. Breathing from the soles of the feet all the way to the middle of the brain. As you inhale, raise the arms and exhale to fold forward. Inhale, half-lift. Maybe you're ready to hop back into Chaturanga or you could step back. Up dog on the inhale and down dog on the exhale. Drop to the knees and press into child's pose as you exhale. So from child's pose, let's go ahead and roll on up and I'm going to turn around so you can see my shoulder. You're welcome to sit on a block to be more comfortable or you can stay seated on your heels. Bring the right arm out to the side, the thumb turns down and on an exhale we bring the hand up the back and then we'll begin to make some big shoulder circles. So as you inhale the right shoulder comes up, exhale back down. Inhaling up, exhale down.

This is the last one. Keeping the shoulder back and down, left hand reaches back and helps that right hand come up and you're looking to get the pinky finger side of the hand right against the spine. Feel the ribs draw in, the back of the neck lengthen, look straight ahead, take a breath. One more and let's go ahead and release. We'll just pause for a moment and integrate. From here we're going to go ahead and bring that left arm overhead and I'm going to spin around so you can see me. So you'll arc your left arm up like you're swimming, bringing the hand to the mat. Then raise the right arm, right fingertips on the back of the head. Left arm stays straight the whole time. Exhale, thoracic rotation, right elbow lowers. Inhale all the way up and open. Exhaling lower, inhaling up. Last one. Inhaling up and open. Pause, really squeezing into the middle of your mat here and then you'll reach that right arm around your ear. Pop your left leg up. We'll do a couple bird dogs. So exhale, elbow knee. Inhale, extend. Exhale, elbow knee. Inhale, extend and pause. Right hand to the mat, tuck your left toes. As you inhale you'll lift this right knee and step right up into a lunge. Then drop the left knee to the mat. Bring your arms up overhead. Left hand comes down the shoulder. You can grab the elbow there like a little knob. Give it a little turn. Heart opening. See that the back toes are tucked, that you're lifting the skin of the pubic plate, that you're opening your heart lifting it up and back and the tailbone moves down and in. You're welcome to stay here or you could take your right arm out, turning the thumb down and as you exhale shoot the hand up the back. Maybe make the clasp or use your strap. From this place you'll inhale lift the heart up. Exhale, lean back right around those knuckles and then we'll inhale the center. Tuck the back toes, lift the knee and begin to move into warrior three. So you lean forward here, transferring the weight into the right foot using strength not momentum to lift that left leg. Take a big breath in. One more. And on this breath in rolling all the way up to standing. Left ankle crosses over the right knee, figure four. So I like to think of my sitting bones like little daggers shooting back. The elbows and shoulders coming together compacted, the spine long. Let's release those arms and inhale. Whoop. You're welcome to stay right here or you could take a standing half happy baby. So right hand to the hip for balance, grab the outside edge of the left foot, begin to straighten the right leg and you're bringing your left knee back kind of like it's a bow there. Looking for a nice long straight spine, open heart, one breath and release. Coming into Tadasana, inhale from the soles of the feet to the middle of your brain and exhale. Inhale vision to thumbs, hands lifted, exhale to fold. Halfway up, take a breath, hands to the mat, you could step or do a little hop into Chaturanga. Up dog on the breath in and down dog on the breath out. Drop to the knees, inhale, child's pose, exhale. From this child's pose, go ahead and roll up to seated. I'm gonna spin around so you can see me and again you're welcome to sit on a block so you're more comfortable. You can stay seated on your heels. The left arm this time comes out, the thumb turns down and on an exhale shoot it up the back and we'll begin to make these big circles. Left shoulder coming up and back and down. We want to move with the breath, inhale up, exhale back and down. One more big circle. Let's keep the shoulder in that back and down position. Right hand can reach back and help the left hand come up a little bit. It's kind of like you're trying to give yourself an itch. Give yourself a scratch on your shoulder blade and we're turning this pinky finger side of the hand against the spine. Bring the other hand to the ribs. Draw the ribs down and in. Draw the shoulder head left side and the elbow back. Lengthen the back of the neck. Pause for a moment breathing. Try to send your breath into the top lobes of the lungs below your collarbones. That's on this next breath. Go ahead and release and we'll just integrate for a moment right here.

I'm going to spin around so you can see me. From here as you next inhale reach your right arm overhead like you're swimming. Bring the hand to the mat. This left hand comes to the back of the head. Remember the right arm stays straight. So it's an inhale up, exhale lowering the elbow as much as you can. Inhaling up, exhale lower. One more. Exhale. Inhaling up and pause, feeling your spine and everything squeezing around the midline. And as you exhale take the left arm around your ear, pop your right leg up. Let's take a couple bird dogs. Elbow knee on the exhale. Inhale extend. Last one. Pause. Really reach through that right inner heel. Feeling that action of warrior three here. And left hand to the mat. Tuck your right toes. Hover your left knee in and then bring the left foot next to the right foot. On your next breath in, step the left foot up between your hands and drop your right knee to the mat. Let's inhale and bring our arms up. The right hand will come down the shoulder and you can grab your right elbow like a little knob. Give it a turn away from you. Start to lift the heart up and open. Remember to move the tailbone in so the low back stays long. Feel the skin of the pubic plate lifting. You're welcome to stay here or left hand out, thumb down. Big exhale. Hand shoots up the back. Fingers strap, t-shirt, whatever you got. Making catch. And then we'll inhale and lift the heart up right where the knuckles are. Exhale to lean back. Gomukhasana or cow face arms. On this next inhale, pop your right knee up and begin to lean forward coming into warrior 3. Looking for strength rather than momentum. On the breath in, lifting the right leg. Feel that inner right heel drawing up and back. Squeeze the outer right heel to the outer right hip. And lift, breath. And let's inhale and roll up to standing. Right ankle crosses over left knee. Exhale, sending the sitting bones back like little daggers. See if you can bring your shoulders together. Your elbows up and in. Rib cage in. For another breath. And on this inhale, release your arms. And you're welcome to stay right here in your standing figure four or standing half happy baby. So we'll break the left hand to the hip for some structure. Grab the outside edge of the right foot on the inhale, lifting it up and extending it. It's kind of like a bow string you're trying to draw back here. Thinking long spine. Shoulders on the body. For another breath. And exhale, release. Well done. Full reverse prayer. Take an inhale, raise your arms. And as you exhale, bring the hands back and down. I'm gonna turn around so you can see me. So this posture, it's helpful to start by bringing the pinkies to touch or some part of your finger there. And then I think of this as the runny and run. So you'll round your back a little bit, punch forward, start to run the hands up the spine and then bringing the pinkies and some other fingers as many as you can to touch. And as you inhale, you straighten out your spine, possibly sealing the palms. And then we could do that a couple times. Maybe one more, bend the knees. Exhale, run up.

Inhaling like a little butterfly sunning the wings. Pacina mascara. Prayer on the patchy the backside of the body. Once you've found your edge there, take a few breaths. So coming into a tadasana, feet are centered under the hips, tailbone is long, skin in the pubic plate lifts, compact your hips, draw the ribs in, lengthen the back of the neck. See that the shoulders and the elbows move back, that you're sealing the palm of the hand. For three, two, noticing what you notice in the space of the heart. And release your hands on this exhale. If you feel like your wrists are breaking after that, you can try to take your own pulse here. So it's like you reach your fingers up towards your inner wrist. Close your eyes for a moment and integrate. Let's blink the eyes open and release. We're gonna step our feet a little bit wider than our hips and turn the toes out. So we're gonna sink our hips down into malasana. Raise your arms. Inhale and exhale, a little bend in the knees, hips lowering all the way down. Bringing the elbows to the inner knee, the thumbs to the heart. So here we have namaskarasana. It's the other side of the one we just did. This one's about opening the front of the heart. See about opening up the collarbones. So bringing the shoulder blades together and down behind you, the back of the neck long, the collarbones open. A little food for thought. I've heard it said that the back of the heart is how we love ourself and the front of the heart is how we love others. So you might just notice, notice what you notice. This will be your last big breath here. Go ahead and release and roll all the way onto your back. Drawing the knees in, you can rock gently side to side. And then reaching for the outer edges of the feet with both hands for our ananda balasana, our blissful baby, our happy baby pose. See how it feels to draw the outer edges of the feet down and into the outer hips and lift the inner arches up. Can you parallel the feet, the edges of the feet to the mat? Bring the sitting bones and the pubic bone forward. Release the shoulders away from the neck and breathe all the way into the hips. Noticing if your jaw or the tongue in the mouth is gripped, if your jaw is tight or your tongue is clenched, then your hips have a grip in them. There is a beautiful connection between the jaw and the pelvic floor diaphragm. Soft jaw, soft hips. Let's release the left leg. We'll keep the right leg in. You can take the left leg straight and begin to draw your right ankle towards your outer upper left shoulder. Then the right knee moves away. So I call this one pigeon in the hammock. You're welcome to hang out right here in this reclined pigeon. We can play around with it a little bit by lifting your head and wrapping your left elbow around your right ankle. Then this right arm will come overhead and behind and you'll grab your fingers and rest your head here like a little hammock. Again soft jaw, maybe closing the eyes. Let's take one more big breath and release. Taking the right knee into your left hand, you can release your head back on the mat. Right leg crosses over the body for a supine spinal twist, reaching the right arm out and away. Take an inhale to elongate your spine in the posture and an exhale to soften into the twist.

Last breath. Big exhale. Inhaling back to your back, both knees in and we'll switch sides here. So grabbing the outside edge of the left foot, right leg straight and begin to take your left ankle towards your right upper outer shoulder. Your welcome to hang out right here, the left knee moving away or you could catch your ankle in the crook of your elbow, reach the left arm behind and around your head to grab your fingers and relax in your pigeon and a hammock. One more nice breath here. Breathing all the way into the hips and release. Left knee into the right hand, inhaling to roll the knee over the body and as you exhale you can reach your left arm away. Take a few breaths, elongate the spine, exhale a little bit of a reach through the left fingers. Down this next breath in, coming back to the back and let's straighten both legs out for a moment and we'll have a moment and final relaxation. Integrating the effects of your practice. Releasing all the effort that you made and resting in that effortless being, that effortless presence that is you. On this next breath in, bring a little lightness, a little vitality into your body, breathing all the way down into the extremities and an exhale. Let's bring the knees in and rock ourselves up to seated for a short guided meditation. We'll be sitting for about nine minutes. Invite you to make yourself as comfortable as possible. You can sit on your block. Coming into perhaps an easy cross-legged pose like I am or if there's another pose that's better for you please take that. Just see that the sitting bones are even whatever surface you're sitting on and that you have some length coming up the front of the spine. Releasing the shoulders and the skin of the brow and let the brain become heavy in the skull and when you're ready closing your eyes from top to bottom. Begin by noticing what is arising and dissipating in the field of your awareness.

Thoughts, sensations, sounds. Noticing them with curious compassion like little fish swimming by. If you became lost in a big juicy thought gently guiding your awareness back, back to the center of your being. The place from which all noticing comes. Bringing your attention to the space of the heart. I love that yoga has a name for this space of the heart. It's Hiradya. Going about two inches in from the center of the breastbone. Focusing your awareness on a single point. The center of the space of the heart. Allowing whatever arises to come and go. Noticing it with that curious compassion. Always drawing the attention back to that center point in the space, the center of the heart. It takes effort and attention to concentrate the mind. This is the first step of meditation. Concentrating the awareness. One single point. Releasing the concentrated aspect of the mind to open awareness around the space of the heart. So not one single point. The space around the heart. It's like the mind takes a moment to exhale. There's a softness, a free fall as you dissolve into spaciousness. And as the mind wanders off in thought or sound or sensation pulls at it, coming back to that space of the heart. Exhaling into it.

This is an effortless place. Release the effort that you're making. Even the effort to release effort is an effort. Release that and rest in that which you are, your essential nature. Spaciousness, thoughtless awareness, and total presence. Listening to the sound of your heartbeat. Begin to sink your breath up to the heartbeat. You can inhale for three counts of the heart. Exhaling for three counts of the heart. Repeating. Inhaling. One, two, three. Exhaling. One, two, three. And do a few more on your own pace because the beat, the rhythm of your heart and your breath is unique. As you finish this next exhale, letting that slip away, noticing how you feel. When we syncopate the heart and the mind, we enter a state of integration. When the heart and the mind are out of sync, it feels fragmented. When you're ready, you can slowly open your eyes, holding your gaze in one spot. Try not to look around or move, cultivating that pause between the external world and how you react to it. And when you're ready, moving into your day from this place, thank you so much for sharing your practice with me. Such an honor.


Diane C
1 person likes this.
Wonderful class! I only had time for the first 22 minutes this morning. Can't wait to complete the entire class. I felt the benefits immediately! thank you Nuria. 
Muhammed Emin

Patti B
1 person likes this.
I am flexible - yet now have Parkinson' s and R.A. I am very proactive so I can't wait to begin yoga again. It has been one of my favorite joys that will always be a big part of my journey.
Francesca Venturini
I really enjoyed the class. Very pleasant meditation
Kate B
Creative sequencing and original metaphors makes Nuria classes so much fun to follow.
Michelle F
2 people like this.
Thank you Nuria - this was a wonderful practice - I just love when Im introduced to a new way of doing something ....and it works! Your tip of the pinky being on the spine in cowface was amazing---I have always had the top of my hand flat against back! The figure of four dog pose made me smile and the standing half baby had me wobble and giggle - what a lovely way to start the day!
Have a beautiful day

Diane Let me know how you like the rest of it! 
Muhammed Emin  Thank you 🙏🏼
Patti, and yoga is here for you when you are ready! Thanks for being here. 
Francesca Great news! A pleasant meditation is a win indeed. Thanks for being here. 
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