Bend It Like Bex Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 9

Unshouldering the Burden

30 min - Practice


Release what you are shouldering. Bex meets us on the mat with a short 3-minute meditation. We then flow into a sequence with extra attention on opening the shoulders with a strap. We end in meditation. Your will feel open and available.
What You'll Need: Mat, Strap

About This Video


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(water washes) Welcome. I'm Bex and this is a shoulder sequence so you'll wanna have a strap or if you have a very long towel you can place that at the top of your mat. For now though, settle in, close your eyes. Seeded meditation. So let this meditation be about bringing breath in and recalling that you have only one world, one atlas on your shoulders.

So within that space, you telescope your focus and concentration into the breath and a single pointed attention. (slow breathing) It's easy for the mind to move in the direction of other see if you can reign it in and feel the sensations in your body. Whether it's the rising and the falling of the belly, the widening and the softening of the ribs or even the elevation of the collar bones from taking full, deep, rich breaths into the lungs. (slow breaths) Let the ears float back and the center of the chest, the sternum rise up as you have a soft exhale, so the heart center can melt just a bit. And then anytime your mind starts to loop on something, just remember there's plenty of time for that later.

For now, breath, feel and concentrate on noticing the rising and the falling of the belly, the widening and the softening of the ribs and possibly the lifting of the collar bones if the breath is taking full, deep, rich inhales and exhales. Bring your hands to your heart center in prayer. Pick an intention for the practice, a simple motivation dedication, mantra, or the theme of one head, one world on your shoulders. Allow the chest to rise and the chin to fall. Then slowly open your eyes.

Come on to all fours. So as you come onto all fours, thigh bones vertical, shin bones mostly horizontal, extend your left arm and simply circle it around. So that could be forward, out, to the side and down. Forward, out and down breathing. And then you go the other way.

Back, out and around. Back, out and around. You can let the head nod back, out and around and then release. Extend out and around, extend out and around, one more, extend out and around and then go the other direction. Come back, around and then back, around.

One more time, back, around. Release, sit on your heels for a moment here. Slide the shoulders up to the ears like a deep deep shouldering shrug and then exhale release. (exhales) Slide the shoulders up to the ears and then release. (exhales) One more time, slide 'em up and then release.

(exhales) Roll the shoulders up, back and down. Up, back and down. And one more time up, back and down. Then take the knees wide apart and make your way into child's pose. Make your way to downward facing dog.

(slow breath) So when you're down dog, as you're gazing gently at your feet, note the way that when you peddle the feet, the heels just track up and down. So if you can see the heels inward like a V or outward like an A, just parallel for now and see what that feels like. Simply step the right foot forward. As the right foot comes forward, steady yourself. If you need support, you can lower the left knee down, you will extend the right arm and you can keep the left fingertips on the mat and then switch.

If you don't need the support, you just play with that inhaling and exhaling as the arms begin to just slide forward and down, forward and down, forward and down and then both of them down a little straight in the legs so you can fold here, breathing into the hamstrings as you know everything is connected. So we pay a little bit of love and attention to the hamstrings right now so the shoulders know that they have support. And then simply bend the right knee, take the right leg back, the left leg forward, set yourself up once again, back leg straight unless you prefer the foot on the floor, leaning on the floor, extend the left arm and slowly, gently begin to breathe and swing. So there's a little bit of hovering of the chest over the thigh, smooth breath. Hands frame front foot, mostly straighten the left leg, magnetize the inner thigh so you feel that, breathing your way in and breathing your way out.

You let there be a sense of the breath cascading through the body. So you're just sort of marinating in the breath. Bend the left knee, come into the plank, steady yourself and then slowly lower down, thigh bones roll in, interlace the fingers, inhale, lift for the locust. (breaths slowly) Exhale, release. Push back into child's if you prefer that, otherwise plank to down dog.

Always know at anytime in the practice you can take the pose of the child. Step the right foot forward, lower the left knee down to the mat, top of the foot. If the knee is sensitive you can fold the mat or grab a blanket. Now you grab your lovely strap, possibly your towel if that's what you have. You take the strap as wide as you like.

The wider, the more generous, the more ease in the shoulders. So you will exhale, the arms will reach back letting the pelvis descend. Inhale, arms come up. Exhale, arms come forward. Inhale, arms up.

Exhale back. So you're just looping and breathing. Inhale, arms up, exhale, arms forward. Take the strap very nicely, put it on the side to the right, you'll be needing it soon so. Take the right leg back, inhale to the plank, exhale, lower all the way down.

Roll the thigh bones in and switch the clasp of the thumbs inhale, lift the chest. Softness through the toes, tops of the feet connected. (slow breathing) And then release, hands under the shoulders. If you like you can take a child's pose or you simply reverse the plank and then downward facing dog. Left foot steps now, right knee down top of the foot.

Grab the strap once again. If you wanna narrow the distance that's totally up to you. Exhale the arms back, inhale arms up and forward exhale. Inhale up and exhale back. Inhale up, exhale forward.

Last round up, back. (slow breathing) Strap goes to the side, gently make your way plank pose, lower all the way down. This time take the arms back, palms face the floor, tops of the feet down, inhale lift the chest. If you like, you can add the legs, if that's sensitive for the lower back, keep the legs down. Nice natural curve in the neck Hands down, press back and up, downward facing dog.

(slow breathing) Step the right foot forward, left knee down, top of the foot down. Grab hold of the strap. This time, sit deeply into the pelvis and lean over to the right. (slow breathing) Another opportunity to just breath and wait. (slow breaths) Inhale up through center and then take the right arm back and the left arm forward.

Begin to twist, relax the shoulders, sit a little deeper. (slow breathing) Come forward, bring the strap together, place it on the right side once again and then step into downward facing dog. (relaxed breathing) Left foot steps, right knee down. When you grab hold of the strap make sure you feel solid in the back leg and then inhale the arms, grab wide, lean over gently to the left. So you may notice that one side resists or one side pulls.

You just breath and observe. Doesn't help to label it as your tight side or your challenged side. It just helps to observe and breathe. In yoga we watch, we breathe, we watch again. Inhale, come up.

Take the right arm forward and the left arm back, press into the back chin, relax the shoulders, breathe here. (slow breathing) Come up through center, again strap comes together, you place it on the floor, plank pose. This time all the way down to the floor. Inhale, arms back, lift up. So the baby fingers gently squeeze towards each other.

Allow the chin to kinda bow a bit so the neck is long here. (slow breathing) Hands under the shoulders, press back through child's pose or plank, downward facing dog. Step the right foot forward, left hand on the floor, right hand thumb in the crease at first, shrug the shoulders up and then roll them back. Hand can stay on the hip or reach the right arm up. Push back through the inner ankle on the left leg.

(relaxed breathing) Reach the right arm over and down to the mat and then there's your hamstring love once again, fold into it. (slow breaths) There's always more room for more love for your hamstrings. Bend the right knee, take the right leg back, down dog. (relaxed breaths) Step the left foot forward, be kind here with your body, take the left thumb into the crease of the hip, see if it's appropriate for you to go further. You can just wait and then if it is, you just reach up and breathe.

(slow breaths) Inhale, left arm over. Left hand comes to the mat, mostly straighten the left leg, smooth the breath out here as you steer the outer left hip back. Feel the wonderful sensations happening through the back and the left leg. (relaxed breathing) Bend the left knee, leg back. Plank pose, inhale, lower all the way down.

Hands under the shoulders, look over with a little bit of spunk. So you get up and then you kinda wriggle. And then you hold and you breath, relaxed in the neck. And slowly release down. Downward facing dog.

So this may sound confusing however it's true. Step your left forward into Warrior Two and as you step, grab hold of your magical strap, place it into your left hand. It helps if you have the strap, the belt and you grab the side that has the clasp. So you sit deeply into Warrior Two and then you grab hold of the bent left elbow it kinda makes like a unicorn horn on the top of your head. And you can let the tail of the strap be if that's a lot and you like the feedback of the hand on the elbow.

If you want to go further, you can slide the right hand to the left hip or you can climb up the strap, to see about grabbing for the fingertips and you're not forcing it. If you're like me, you get a deep sensation through the triceps and then maybe you side bend just a little like a reverse. So you have those cow face arms, half Gomukhasana and you breath here. (slow breathing) And then you'll tilt just a little bit, so the left ribs will come forward, right ribs will go back. The sensations will probably increase a bit.

Inhaling here. (slow breaths) Inhale, come up, let go of the strap. Now carry it with you in your right hand, come down now into the plank. Exhale all the way to the floor, take the arms back, you can add the legs and lift. So you can rinse through the right and the left side.

The sensations on the left side will be something different from the right. And then slowly, gently release. Downward facing dog. Step the right foot forward, grab hold of the strap, the buckle side, come into that Warrior Two prep and then very very slowly, bend the right arm, left hand grabs the right elbow and you're gentle here to also allow the arm bone to kinda settle into the shoulder girdle. So in that place you breathe, then the left hand comes behind, you could let it rest or you can climb it up or maybe you can clasp.

But it just depends on sides. This happens to be my side that has a bit more freedom so I can clasp, not that it matters. I just feel my fingers before I felt the strap. And then side bend, bending deeper into the right thigh breathing. Again there's that moment maybe where the left ribs feel like they slide a little bit toward the heart center and the right rib side, a little bit toward the back of the body.

And then you inhale, come up until the body, and this time its the right ribs forward and the left ribs slightly back. (slow breathing) Inhale, come up. You'll exit different here, so grab your strap with you. Turn your feet parallel for separate leg stretching and take the strap nice and wide. This time we'll rinse the shoulders by exhaling the arms back and then inhaling the arms up, exhaling them back.

See if you can take the ears back as well. And then if you feel a little daring, you can shorten the distance of your strap or your towel or whatever you're holding onto. Inhale the arms up, exhale them back. Inhale up, exhale back. Inhale come up through center, lean over to the right, ears back.

And then inhale up and exhale over to the left. So anytime the mind wanders, you think of other you bring it back. One world right? One atlas on your shoulders. And then you inhale come up, bring the hands together.

As you fold forward and down, you will heel toe the feet together and come into Thunderbolt, Vajrasana. So you'll sit on your heels. If for some reason there's any discomfort, you can sit in a different shape or you can pad in between the thighs and the shins. So now that you have established comfort in Vajrasana, take the strap nice and wide again. With the strap over your head, exhale the arms back and then inhale the arms up and exhale the arms back.

If it's difficult for you, you widen the distance on the strap, if it's not, you narrow it. So it's an inhale up and an exhale back. An inhale up and an exhale forward. Then inhale up, lean over to the right, relax the shoulders as you go right. (exhaling) Ears back.

Inhale and come up, exhale over to the left. (slow breathing) Inhale, come up. This time as you go back, let yourself lean an reach that right arm down toward the floor more, to stretch the whole left side. Ears back. (relaxed breathing) Inhale, come up.

Balance it out by doing the other side now. Feel how the left arm will go down, right arm up, shoulders finding that place where they're happy and not rounded or not arched too much, just right in between. (slow breathing) Then you'll come up through center, I'm gonna turn around so you can have a vision of this shape here. Sitting, you will lift the right arm up and you will bend the right elbow, patting yourself on the back that you're doing a great job. Take the left arm back and then you'll climb up the strap.

So you can have the hand down by the side if that feels more accessible to you, if not, you'll climb up the strap and you sit up tall and you breathe. And as you breathe you settle also the hips and the heels and you feel the breath even here. You will add on a side bend over to your left. (slow breathing) Inhale, come up. Slowly, gently release.

And really be kind as you come out of it, 'cause the shoulders are so delicate and they carry a lot. And just kind of pause there with it and feel that breath and what's happening through the right side and you can even just sort of examine that something has happened on the right that hasn't happened on the left. It's not better, it's not worse, it's just that something has happened. So it's valuable enough to do the other side, put the strap in the left hand, grab hold of the left elbow, the tail of the strap will go down the back and the then the right hand comes behind. You can either slide the right hand to the outer left waist or climb up the strap here breathing, settling into the ribs.

(slow breaths) Then slowly lean over to the right. (relaxed breathing) Inhale, come up. Sit up, close the eyes. As you close the eyes and you begin to breath again, notice what's shifting. (slow breathing) Open your eyes.

You will place your strap at the top of your mat and then sit for meditation. Hands come to the heart center in prayer. Then turn the palms up, rest them on the thighs. (relaxed breathing) As you navigate through the breath and your inner current recognize that illuminated quality within you. The yoga practice is about this.

Allowing that bright glow to shine. So much so, even in the dark you can feel your sparkle. If you like, you can lie down into Savasana. You could also continue to sit here. And I invite you if you continue to sit to work with the mantra Sat Nam.

I am. I am that, I am truth, truth I am. Sit as long as you like. Hands at your heart center in prayer. Inhale.

(singing note) What a blessing this practice is. Namaste.


1 person likes this.
Great sequence. I've has shoulder issues from years of capoeira and this video is my new rehab. Thanks. Bex!
Rebecca Urban
Thanks...Love this shoulder release session...Glad you are enjoying it Warriorsaint!!
Joe M
2 people like this.
My shoulders, especially my right, are extremely tight, feels quite difficult currently but good at the same time. Great sequence!! Looking forward to it becoming easier ;) Thanks a ton!
Rebecca Urban
Keep on keeping on Joe, opening up the shoulders leads to an OPEN heart and ease in movement!
Lisa H
1 person likes this.
Love this sequence Bex - it is a perfect for releasing my computer shoulders at the end of a busy day!
Robin J
I discovered this practice today thanks Rebecca
Robin J
What a blessing to practice with you Rebecca

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