10 Essential Poses For Musicians (Part 1)
Most of us know that doing a little bit of intentional movement throughout the day helps our bodies to stay supple, strong and healthy and our minds to feel more grounded. We know that we feel better when we move.
Real talk though––it’s kinda hard to find even a few spare minutes to mindfully move when you’re running late to rehearsal (you’ll have just enough time to put your horn together, blow some warm air through it, then you’re on!), have back-to-back meetings, are teaching literally all day, using your “free time” to write that article you’ve been trying to finish for months, oh, and have to also somehow find time to practice for your upcoming concerts.
Yo, I get it.
So, let me help you out! I put together a two-part blog post walking you through 10 yoga poses that specifically cater to our lifestyle as musicians. (Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!)
I take you through how to do these poses safely step-by-step and offer several variations and modifications for each so that you can make these work for YOU and YOUR body. These poses are beginner friendly, and can be done at your desk, in the practice room, backstage before rehearsals or concerts, in the recording studio… the possibilities are endless!
Each post includes 5 different poses that you could either do individually to target a specific area of your body, or do together as a full-body warm-up. Remember to keep your breath flowing long and deep as you practice these poses.
Avoid these exercises if you are already injured unless your medical doctor gives you the “okay.” If you experience any sort of pain while doing these exercises, STOP IMMEDIATELY. You can lessen the intensity (make smaller circles or lessen the range of motion for example) or just discontinue altogether.
1. CHILD’S POSE
Stretches the hips, thighs and ankles
Decompresses the back
Restorative and restful
How to do it:
Sit back on your heels.
Drape the upper body over the thighs and let your forehead rest on either the floor or just above it.
Reach your arms forward, make your palms big and press them down into the floor.
Rotate your elbows under to spread through your shoulder blades.
Let the hips sink down.
Feel the breath move up and down along the spine.
Widen your knees keeping the big toes together as close as what’s comfortable, then drape your upper body down.
Instead of reaching the arms forward, try wrapping them back around your sides.
Grab a sturdy object, like a book, and rest your forehead on that if it feels like the floor is too far away.
2. HANDS CLASPED BEHIND HEAD
Opens the shoulders and chest
Releases the upper back.
How to do it:
Interlace your fingers behind your head. Be careful not to pull your head forward.
Take your elbows wide, squeezing your shoulder blades toward each other.
Soften your neck and lift your chest.
Bring your hands to your shoulders with your thumbs behind and your fingers in front instead of behind your head.
Reach your chest up and look up to come into a gentle heart-opener/backbend.
3. SIDE STRETCH
Stretches the low back and the muscles between the ribs (intercostals).
Releases low back.
Opens the rib cage to help improve lung capacity.
How to do it:
Sit or stand comfortably.
Reach one arm up alongside your ear while staying grounded through your feet (if you’re standing) or your sits bones (in you’re sitting).
Keep reaching up, lengthening through your ribs, and lifting your chest.
Begin to come over to one side and tuck your ribs back as if you’re pressing your back into a wall.
If you’re seated, you can place your other hand on the floor for support.
Inhale coming back to a neutral spine, and do the other side.
Reach your arm up without bending to the side if you feel unstable.
Bring your hand either behind your head (without pulling the head forward) or on your shoulder, reach your elbow up and back.
If you’re standing, use a wall to help with stability. Face the opposite side of the side you’re stretching toward the wall and gently press your fingertips into the wall as you reach up and stretch with the other arm.
4. HALF-DOG WALL STRETCH
Opens upper back, shoulders, chest and ribs.
Releases low back
Lengthens the back of the legs
How to do it:
Face the wall and bring your feet about hip-width apart. Make sure your toes are facing forward.
Press your hands into the wall as you slowly walk them down until you start to feel the stretch or until they are about inline with your hips.
Wrap your elbows under, and lift the chest.
Reach the crown of the head and the tailbone away from each other.
And, at the same time, reach your tailbone and heels away from each other.
Shake the head out gently to soften the neck.
Use a waist-high desk, table or study chair instead of the wall.
Walk feet closer toward the wall, and press your forearms against the wall (elbows inline with your shoulders) for deeper opening in upper back and chest.
5. QUAD STRETCH
Stretches the thigh and hip flexors.
Relieves low back pain.
How to do it:
Stand with your feet either together or hip width apart with your toes pointing forward.
Shift your weight over to your left foot and lift your right foot behind you.
Reach back, grab your right foot with your hand and gently bring your heel in toward your butt.
Keep your knees inline which each other, squeeze your inner thighs toward each other, and tuck your tailbone under slightly.
Lift through the upper body and make sure you aren’t holding extra tension in your neck and shoulders.
Press your hand into a wall or on a table for balance support.
If your foot is hard to reach, wrap a scarf or towel around the top of your foot, hold the ends in one hand, and start to bring your heel in toward your butt.
Flex your foot to add stability the knees and to deepen the stretch.
There you have it for Part 1! Which ones are you going to try? If you have any questions about these poses don't hesitate to ask!
Stay tuned next week for Part 2!
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