Mindfulness in Motion 10-Day Yoga Challenge Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 10

Day 9: Spacious Shoulders

30 min - Practice


In Day 9, we open and strengthen the muscles around the backs of the shoulders. Explore the movement of your shoulder blades and feel openness across your back as we move through Eagle variations, scapula push-ups, and Cow Face pose. You will feel spacious and de-stressed.
What You'll Need: Mat

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Hey everybody and welcome. All right, this is day nine of your 10 day challenge with me. And today's focus, we're gonna get a little into the backs of the shoulders. So there's nothing uniquely needed for today's sequence. If you wanna grab something to support your practice, feel free.

But if you have your mat, you have your body, you're all good to go, okay? So you're gonna begin seated and I want you to make that as comfortable for yourself as you need to. So legs can be pulled in if that's a little more supportive unless you wanna stretch the legs long if there's any complications, okay? Let the hands relax on the body. So maybe there's thighs, maybe there's knees unless you wanna pull the palms together at the heart or the head, okay?

And close your eyes for a bit. And then try to let these first few moments of your practice be a space of settling, okay? Like literally a transition. Start to take into account anything that has came onto the mat with you, right? Whether there's any lingering feeling, whether there's any lingering thought or emotion that's present, right?

And I'm not asking you to shift anything. I'm not asking you to kind of push anything away. But just bring a little more awareness to it, right? Bring a little more attention to what it feels like in the body. Nice, okay, and if you can, take an inhale.

I want you to shrug your shoulders up and into the ears. All right, as you exhale, draw the shoulders down and back behind you, okay? Do that one more time. Inhale, roll the shoulders, fold it up to the ears. Good, and then as you exhale, draw the shoulders down your back to relax, good.

All right, and you're gonna float your eyes open, okay? Starting with our right arm first. I just want you to make a simple fist and stretch your arm out front. All right, I'm gonna take that arm across the body, bringing that left arm underneath to brace it for a little bit of a shoulder stretch, okay? So simple enough, it's kind of like an armbar situation.

Left arm is kind of supporting that arm as you bring it across the body. But for today, I want you to make it a little more active, all right? So that back arm, as you squeeze that fist, I want you to make the effort like you're trying to push forward into that front arm. With that front arm and left hand, create that counter effect of like pulling back a little bit, okay? So now you're stretching that arm, but it also has to engage a little bit in that lengthening position, right?

Feel that all the way across the shoulder, all the way across the upper back and right arm. All right, simple feeling. Take a big inhale, lift through the chest. Nice, as you exhale, release through the hands, let that go, and then just register that feeling in that right shoulder right now. Okay, all right, same thing left side, all right?

So you're gonna make a fist, stretch your left arm towards the front. And again, just across the body. Left arm is gonna wrap underneath to brace and support that stretch, okay? And you get the same idea, all right? Left arm is reaching across, but again, it's also pushing forward a little bit into that front arm, all right?

Front arm, counter work, just pull back to kind of resist that motion, right? Like as if your left arm is trying to like push, but that front arm doesn't want it to win, okay? All right, keep that, let that include the back of the shoulder and roll in across the front, okay? All right, take a deep inhale, lift through the heart, all right, and as you exhale, release, arms come down. And again, simple movement of the shoulders might feel nice if you wanna take some time, give yourself a little groove, all right?

And you're gonna transition into down dog on your mat. So rolling forward onto the hands, we step back on both feet, all right? So as we arrive in down dog, all right, let this first big shape be just about making space, all right? Free movement, nothing too much to get into your head about, but something that your body kind of guides you into what is needed, right? Like you follow what feels nice, all right?

So right, simple pedal through the heels, you can take as big bends in the knees as you like, all right? But feeling also in down dog that you can keep some space around your neck, so maybe if it feels nice, you can shake the head a little yes and no, all right? But draw those shoulders a little further back away from the ears, nice, all right? And for me, you're gonna bend your knees, look forward, and then slowly walk your feet to the top of the mat, you're gonna come into a fold at the front. Nice, all right, and once you arrive, try to soften all the effort in the body, so release everything down to the floor, all right?

Simple movement again, all right? These first few moments, again, we're just kind of getting into the body, so don't feel like you gotta be forced or rigid, all right? Big bends in the knees, all right? If you wanna sway the upper body a little left to right, that might feel nice as well across the upper body and neck, all right, same idea here, head moves, neck release, and then similar to what we did in the last episode, if you want, arms reach back, especially since the focus is on shoulders today, give yourself a little bit of work and movement up top as well. Nice, all right, release the hands, all right?

So as you inhale, find a half lift, and as you exhale, fold forward one more time, good, all right? As you inhale, stand all the way up, stretch the arms over the head, and as you exhale, hands to the sides of the body, foot to the outside, good, okay? So pause in for a moment just to pull your attention back to breath, all right? Take a deep inhale in, and then just a smooth, slow exhale out, let that go. Good, okay, do that one more time, inhale as big as you can breathe, and then let the exhale soften the shoulders, remind yourself you can kinda let go with that breath, good.

Okay, so salutations, just appear that movement with that same breath, so keep the rhythm, same idea, all right, inhale, arms forward and up, nice. As you exhale, fold forward, come down over the front to the legs, good. As you inhale, half lift, let the shoulders come back here as well, nice. As you exhale, fold and release, we let everything go, good. Right, as you inhale, stand all the way up, feel that reach all the way through the arms and hands, and then as you exhale, let the hands relax to the sides, okay, one more time, try to breathe a little deeper, right?

Inhale, big stretch forward and up, and as you exhale, try to slow down on the breath, but take all that time to come down in the body as well, good. All right, as you inhale, half lift, take an extra pause at the top, nice. As you exhale, fold forward, let that be a space at the bottom as well, good. All right, as you inhale, slow down, as you stretch up, big reach through the arms, nice. Exhale, hands to the sides of the body, pause.

All right, last one, maybe we close the eyes, all right? Inhale, feel that reach all the way through the fingertips, nice, and then as you exhale, feel that release through the whole body, so everything relaxes just for a moment, nice. As you inhale, half lift, feel the space open up around the neck, nice. As you exhale, fold, we release one more time, all right? Inhale, stand all the way up, arms pass over the head, nice, as you exhale, mountain hands relax, okay?

Keep that same rhythm, one sun, A, same pace, okay? So as you inhale, arms stretch forward and up, nice, as you exhale again, releasing the body over the legs, we come down, all right? Half lift as you inhale, nice, as you exhale, take the hands to the mat, step both feet back, pause and then plank, okay? And as always throughout the entire series, right? Knees come down to support plank or any flow, you feel you need to be supported in, all right?

But if you can, open up a little more space into the fingertips, and then for today, as you push down into the hands, imagine that you can round your upper back to the ceiling, right, so you can feel those shoulder blades kind of move away from each other, but that open upper back is what we want, okay? Inhale, belly in, exhale, come halfway down, all right? Inhale over the toes, lift the heart forward and up, let the shoulders relax back and down, good y'all. All right, down dog, tuck your toes, hips lift up, we pause. All right, so feel for a moment that there's a space in your practice where you can let go a little more than you add on, all right?

So maybe that space around the shoulders you can release if that is unnecessary to hold, all right? Letting go of that tension throughout the hands, and then we're not holding the breath either, right? We wanna let go with the breath, nice, okay? From here, bend your knees, look forward, all right? Slowly walk or hop to the top of your mat, coming into a forward fold one more time, good, right?

Inhale for a half lift, exhale to release and let go of the work, good. As you inhale, stand all the way up and take as much time as you need to lift. Nice, and then as you exhale, let the hands relax to your sides, okay? So as best as you can, you just wanna maintain rhythm, but let that just be the guide to how you move, okay? Last one, inhale, arms forward and up, nice.

As you exhale, you release, all right? All the way heavy through the body, all right? On your next inhale, half lift, nice. As you exhale, take the hands to the mat, step back into down dog, all right? And then from here on out, you're gonna make a choice, right?

If it feels good to flow, you're welcome to take all that we take throughout the class, right? If you feel throughout the practice that you rather skip a flow or it's just better in your body to not do one, okay? Feel free to pause, and that's always a good choice as well, okay? Take a moment, feel that you can spread the work throughout the hands and then remind yourself that space around your neck. So keep pulling the shoulders back and down away from that area, good, okay?

So as you inhale, stretch your left leg up and back, nice. As you exhale, step left foot into between the hands, setting up warrior two. So back heel down, you're gonna open up the heart to the right with the arms out to the sides, good, okay? And then feel it for a moment that you can settle into your warrior two. So again, grounding through the feet, give yourself a little active reach through the arms, nice, okay, and from here, simple flip through the palms.

You're gonna inhale, arms straight up and over the head. And as you exhale, bend the elbows down into the sides of your body, right? Like you're trying to make a, I'm gonna say feel, go post, but if you don't, no, here, right? It's kinda like elbows bent to the side, okay? And then feel that the shoulder blades are gonna move with this motion, you're gonna take a deep breath in.

And as you exhale, arms are gonna come out front, so the forearms touch, elbows connect at the bottom, okay? Do that one more time, inhale, arms pull back, feel the shoulder blades kinda move together. And as you exhale, feel the shoulder blades move apart, we want that space, okay? Keep the elbows together, feel as if you can push in slightly at the bottom, and you're gonna pull the wrist slightly apart at the top to encourage that, good. And any amount that you can, lift the elbows up off the chest, good, okay?

So notice all that space in motion across the back, that's what I want you to focus on. Keeping that, maybe we close the eyes, okay? Continue to push into the elbows, keep feeling like you can lift arms up off the chest, but that space across your back, try to maintain, nice. Okay, take a deep inhale, good. As you exhale, send the arms back out to the sides, okay?

Taking a big breath to stretch, open it up. And as you exhale, both hands to the mat, down dog, okay? Step back on the front foot, and then passing through a flow, or maybe pausing if that's where you're holding, nice, okay? So same thing on the left side, inhale, right leg up and back, good. As you exhale, step in between both hands, all right, back heel comes down to the mat for warrior two, nice, okay?

And again, if you can also train, just not trying to rush, right? Feeling that feeling that there's some spaces in your practice where you can actually pause and feel it all out, okay? Palm flip, all right? Take an inhale, arms stretch over the head. And as you exhale, bend the elbows down to the sides of the body, okay?

And again, just keeping that focus on shoulders, especially upper back, excuse me, back of the shoulders. Take an inhale, big breath. And as you exhale, swing the arms out front, notice them move apart, good, okay? One more time, inhale, swing the arms back. You can notice that little squeeze if you come together.

And as you exhale, all the way back out front, okay? Keep the elbows pressed, slight wrist apart up top, okay? And again, as you work into the elbows, lift the upper arms off the chest a bit. Good, y'all, close your eyes if you wanna take that in. Maybe you keep the eyes open, okay?

But try to keep the focus on what you're feeling, right? So if the mind is kinda being challenged or it's trying to tell you to go away, breathe with it, okay? You have that, take a deep inhale. Exhale, arms reach back out to the sides, good, okay? Inhale to stretch across the chest.

And as you exhale, both hands to the mat, down dog, step back, okay? We either pause or you flow. Good, all right, taking an extra moment to breathe big, okay? Let the exhales remind you of this space. Let the exhales remind you where this softening that can happen.

Good, okay? From here, bend your knees, look forward. And then slowly walk our hop to the top of your mat. Good, y'all, okay? As you inhale, half lift.

Nice, exhale, fold and let it all go. We let it go, good. All right, inhale all the way into the top. Take your time on that breath as you stretch up. Nice, and then as you exhale, we soften the hands to the sides, all right?

Pause in for a breath just to pull the mind back in, take a deep inhale, smooth, long exhale, let it go. Okay, so sticking at the top of the mat, want you to take the feet together at the bottom, all right? Setting up for eagle pose, but before we get into it, we want us to feel the same motion one more time, okay? So as you inhale, arms up and over the head. And as you exhale, bend the elbows down into the sides of the body, okay?

And then just feel in that motion we didn't worry or too, I want you to inhale, maybe the arms come back a bit. And as you exhale, swinging the arms out front, feel the shoulder blades move apart, you connect in the arms, good, okay? Do that one more time, inhale, arms pull back. Nice, as you exhale, swing the arms together, elbows push in, wrists slightly apart. So keeping that press, little lift in the arms off the chest, all right?

And then keeping that feeling, noticing that space across the upper body, I want you to take right arm underneath left, eagle wrap, but not at the expense of like losing that space openness across upper shoulders, okay? So keeping that elbows connect, and if it feels good, little bit of motion to make a little more room, good. All right, and then pause, and then emphasize that feeling, elbows push off the chest, lift the upper arms to create that space across the backs of shoulders. Sit the hips down and back, good. And then weight is in your left foot, right leg is gonna lift for eagle, slowly bring right thigh high up and over left, nice, okay?

So once you've got that grip, sit the hips down and back, and it feel even here, you can emphasize, push the elbows off the chest, and then lift up in the arms or the upper back, but those backs of the shoulders are open and active, okay? Take a deep inhaling, exhale, stand tall, right foot on the mat, unravel, okay? Arms up for a breath, exhale, let it go, good. All right, shake it out, get a little crazy if you want, okay? Don't leave it up to me, you just watch me do it, you know, I'm joking.

All right, second side, feet together, all right, arms over the head, big breath in, all right, elbows bend down into the sides, all right, we're only gonna pass through this once, okay? Inhale, arms swing back a bit, exhale, take them out front, elbows connect, okay? Push in at the bottom, wrist slightly apart up top, and then just noticing that feeling in the motion of the shoulders, lift up to create that space in the back, okay? Left arm, underneath right, right? Cross elbows and wrists, give yourself a few small circles, right?

If this like grip, I don't want you to force, right? So if you trying to like get this in this little inconvenient at the moment, shoulders are fine as long as you can emphasize that motion of open space across the back of your shoulders, okay, lift up, sit the hips down and back, good. Weight is in your right foot this time, taking a grip, and then left thigh is gonna come high up and over right. Nice, okay, so stay low through the seat, lift a little higher in the chest, and if you're even here, elbows can push forward off the body, and then lift up so the back of the shoulders are a little active, but again, making some space, okay? Sit a little bit lower, right?

Try to keep the shoulders open, but pull the shoulders down and away from that, good, okay? Inhale, exhale, left foot, good. Inhale to stand tall, find that big reach up, exhale, hands to the sides, good, all right, move what you gotta move, good, okay? And then back in the rhythm, salutations, inhale, arms up and overhead, nice. As you exhale, fold and come down in the body, right?

As you inhale, half lift, exhale, hands on the mat, step both feet back, all right, down dog in your choice, right? Maybe you flow, or maybe flowing is not what the body needs, and that choice is your practice, all right? That choice and awareness, all right, take a moment. Nice, y'all, okay? So inhale, left leg up and back, good.

As you exhale, step forward in between both the hands, high lunge one more time, so back leg stays active, hands at the heart for a moment, okay? Feel like you can actually settle, right? Like you can gather your balance, still breathing big, good. All right, inhale, arms over the head for a breath. In an eagle pose, in this lunge, swing your right arm underneath left, cross elbows and wrists, okay?

So a little more to pay attention to because you're like literally balancing, okay? But keep that, but add on everything we worked on already. So elbows pushed forward, little lift off the chest, feeling those shoulder blades open across the back, okay? Heart up if you can, not crowding the neck too much, but all the space around the shoulders we can have, good y'all. All right, take a deep inhale, chest might lift up, it might feel good to go back, your choice.

Good, as you exhale, unravel, all right? Take the hands to the mat, down dog. Nice work, y'all, okay? Full flow or pulse, nice. Second side, inhale, right leg up, nice.

As you exhale, step forward in between the hands, all right? High lunge with a strong back leg, and again, just take the hands to the heart to set up. Nice, okay? So your heel is up, right? Got it again, challenge is barren, so feel stable, right?

Take the time to get good and grounded, good. Arms over the head as you inhale, nice. And as you exhale, left arm underneath right, cross elbows, we cross wrists, all right? And if you went for a moment, legs are settled. Breath is a little stable too, good.

All right, push the elbows off the chest, lift through those arms, good, y'all, okay? And the shoulder blades are kinda open across the upper back, okay, lift up, you don't have to go back, but it's open if you want to, right? Keep that open space across the back of your shoulders, take a deep inhale, chest up a bit, nice. And as you exhale, unravel, good, down dog, y'all. All right, take what you need, all right?

I'm gonna pause with y'all to take a breath. If you just need to see, that is cool too, okay? Soften shoulders, nice. Right, and from here, knees come down to the mat, tabletop. Right, set the hands up underneath the shoulders, knees underneath the hips.

So as you set up, we're gonna take a version of pushups, for lack of better words, it's just called scapula pushups, because it's what I got, right? But it's actually focused around the shoulders in the scapula motion, okay? So keeping the arms straight, right? You're not gonna step your legs straight back for like a normal pushup, and we're also not gonna bend the elbows, okay? Just feeling this motion in upper back and shoulders, I want you to press the floor away and it feel like you can round your back like we did in that plank earlier, okay, good.

And then take a deep inhale just to feel that motion in upper back, good. And then as you exhale, drop the chest down to the mat, feel the backs of your shoulders squeeze together behind you. So again, elbows are straight, no bend, right? Do that one more time, push the floor away, round your upper back towards the ceiling, feel the backs of your shoulders move forward. And then as you exhale, drop back, feel the backs of your shoulders move together again, just to feel, okay, last one.

Inhale, push the floor away, open that up, good, exhale, drop in between, shoulder blades squeeze together, nice. All right, press the floor away, take your left hand to the center of your mat, and as you inhale, I want you to stretch your right arm towards the ceiling. Good, and then as you exhale, swing that top arm underneath the body to thread the needle, right ear to the mat, right shoulder on the mat. And if it feels nice, you could also crawl that left hand a little more towards the top, okay? And if you're in here, right, simple thread the needle, you're twisting your body.

But to add a little active work, I want you to press down to the bottom arm, giving yourself that space to kind of open up in the chest a bit, right? And then as you push down to that bottom arm, feel similarly that you can round your upper back back a little bit, okay? So you're still finding that same movement of the backs of the shoulders in this pose, but allowing yourself to kind of round the spine and breathe into this twist as well. Nice, okay, press the floor, take one more inhale. Nice, okay, take that left hand to support.

You're gonna inhale, reach that right arm back up to the ceiling. And then as you exhale, take that top arm down, okay? Pause in for a moment, just neutralize through the spine. Nice, okay, so second side. Right hand to the center of the mat.

Take an inhale, left arm reaching it up. There we go. And then left arm underneath, left shoulder, left ear to the mat. And again, you take that top arm wherever feels supportive, all right? And then making it a little, just again to keep that motion through the shoulders, right?

Push through that bottom arm. And imagine you're just opening the chest a little more towards the ceiling. And then just adding in that little pull, drag back through the chest, right? Like you're rounding your upper body behind you. There you go, okay, hold that you have.

Good, all right, take your time. Bring that right hand to support. You're gonna inhale, unravel. Nice, and then exhale, take that top hand down, all right? Take a few maybe just circular motions through the hips.

Right, if you're familiar with Cat-Cow, you're also welcome to move through, but make it gentle, right? Just gentle motion. Nice, good. So from tabletop, all right, find your way onto a seat. All right, I don't mind you sitting on the knees, or excuse me, sitting on the heels if that's not too crazy for the knees.

Me, I'm gonna switch to a seat on my seat, all right? Cause it's just a little more accessible and comfortable for me. So this is fine. Okay, we're gonna take Gomukhas in our cow phase. So if you want, you can set up in a traditional setup with the legs, right leg over left.

But for me, legs are not super as important as it is for the shoulders today. So I don't mind how you set up bottom half, but top half is gonna work through it similarly, okay? So start with the left hand first. I want you to make a fist stretch your left arm straight out in front of you, okay? And you're gonna slowly take that arm up and over the head and then bending at the elbow, take that hand to the top part of your back, okay?

Same thing, right hand, you're gonna make a fist stretch out. This time you're gonna reach down and back and then slowly bring that arm up the low back, okay? So for the first few moments, I don't want you to like reach in class with the fingers if you can, just take a moment, okay? You're gonna get there, I promise you, okay? But feel that you can make a fist, both hands.

You can press firmly into the back with both arms and hands, excuse me, all right? And then with that effort, relax the shoulders down and away from the ears. And then just feel that active squeeze throughout the whole shoulder girdle, especially the back and arms. Nice, okay? And now if you want increase, excuse me, grab the fingers, you are increasing a little bit of leverage, all right?

But feel that it's not forced, right? Like you're not struggling to keep this connection, you still have that same feeling of the active press, okay? Draw the shoulders down, all right? If you want the head might press back against that top arm if it feels desirable. Nice, okay? Take a nice big inhale, one more time.

Nice, and as you exhale, release the hands, take them to the sides and just give yourself a little gentle movement. All right, last one, right here, stretch it out straight ahead of you. All right, this time you're taking this one up and back and then place it on the top part of back, good, okay? Left hand, you make the fist, swing it around, good, y'all. Bend the elbows and bring it up the back, okay?

So again, for a moment, right? And then just notice that in your mind, right? If it's like you have to get that connection unless you're not, you know, like it's not happening, don't worry about that voice, okay? This is great work, don't like fight yourself but feel like this is also fine and acceptable, okay? Press the hands firmly into the back and then feel that as you push into your body you could also pull the shoulders away from your ears.

Nice, okay? If you want, now you add on that leverage, you can grab your hands, okay? And I just want you to feel like there's a difference of like active work and then there's a difference between like having support to kind of pull you into some of this work as well, okay? So top, excuse me, head presses back against the top arm. All right, maybe a little lift through the chest feels nice too but keep in that sensation.

Good, okay, big inhale. Nice, as you exhale, release, okay? Move as much as you like. All right, you're gonna stretch down through the legs, lay flat down on your back just to wrap everything up. Good, y'all.

Okay, so no preference, right? Set up to where you feel comfortable, all right? But again, wherever you decide to set up, like wherever the last shape or last bit of effort to get you into that shape is, let it be a spot where there's no effort. All right, you've done the effort, you've done the part of your practice that you needed to kind of, you needed to recruit a little bit more to get through. All right, and this is a space where you might not need to add more.

Again, you just might feel this feeling of doing less, feeling that less is okay. Okay, so drop off the work, drop off the effort. Okay. Nice. All right, take a moment, all right, not to rush away from the stillness, but to soak it in a little bit more.

All right, and then slowly bring a little bit of movement to the hands, all right, flexing through the fingers, bringing that same movement into the toes and feet as well. All right, you're gonna slowly pull the knees up and into the chest, all right? Give yourself a big squeeze around both legs. All right, it also may feel good to rock a little left to right, but you're gonna have to be able to do that. All right, and then slowly bring a little bit of movement and it also may feel good to rock a little left to right as well, so if you want, give yourself a gentle roll across the back.

Good, and then falling over to the right side of the body, we pause, all right, let that right arm support the head if you need it. Good, all right, slowly pressing up to a C. And again, if you can stay soft, no rush, all right? Keep the shoulders relaxed, keep the eyes relaxed. If you wanna close them, that is always good, all right?

Hands caressing your thighs and the knees. If you feel better with the hands at the heart, you know you can go there as well. All right, thank you so much for moving yourself through your practice, but also sharing that with me and everybody else who is joining for what we practice in the day. All right, namaste.


Kate M
1 person likes this.
I like the lead in to Garudāsana! This will be fun to play with on my mat and teaching : ) I also really appreciated how much more stable the shoulder stretches feel with that isometric engagement. Sweeeet : )
Jenny S
2 people like this.
As usual, I agree with Kate M’s assessment. I’ll add that I really appreciate your constant reminders not to push things but to honor how my body feels TODAY. As I progress through the challenge, I’m noticing that each day for me has been very different as to whether to flow or not for example. This for me is the true essence of yoga and I thank you for reminding me of this 🙏🏻❤️
Margaret B
1 person likes this.
Thank you Quamay! I love your teaching.  Your heart shines through. Slowing down my practice and bringing my attention to the pose or the area we're working on  has really helped me in all of these 9 practices.  My pitta self thought you might lead us into full eagle pose from high crescent lunge!  It was like whew! when you didn't!!!  Big smile here.
Sandra Židan
Thanks, Quamay, for this beautiful practice! Namaste! ❤️🌹🌼
Kavita N
This is the best practice series I have done !

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