I wanted a catchy title for a shoulder girdle post and this classic hit from the 80's popped into my mind. One thing led to another and I've just been dancing like a wild thing for the past 3 minutes (have you ever seen the Elaine dance episode from Seinfeld? If yes you now have the appropriate visual.) Now either read on or click here if you'd rather go back in time and dance 80's style - black lycra unitard optional!
Dancing like a wild thing notwithstanding, how many times a day do you take your arms up above your head? It's often so infrequent that when we do we take a lot of muscle tension with us. If you've got a door frame you can reach up and touch, or a tree branch, or a park with some handy sized bars - or just a really good imagination - you can do this exercise. Please note in the pictures below Nic does not take her feet off the supporting bar. At this stage (unless you've already safely progressed to hanging) do keep your feet down on the ground.
Whenever you can during the day practice taking your arms up over your head, then see if you can drop your shoulders down away from your ears and encourage your ribs to relax too (don't force them down, that too can be a kind of stress - just allow the whole exercise to be a little quieter. Doing it mindfully, gently, regularly and in an enjoyable way is what will open up lasting change).
In Photo 1 Nic's ribs are shearing forward and her shoulders are hunched up (notice how her neck almost disappears). In Photo 2 her ribs and her shoulders are down. Notice the return of her lovely long neck. The side view is even more telling - in the 3rd photo you can see Nic's rib cage is out in front of her pelvis. Can you pick up the subtle forward head that goes with that? Now look at the 4th photo. Nic's ribs are lining up with her pelvis and her ears have come back into line with her shoulders.
The bonus in all of this is correct alignment equals much better use of your abdominal muscles. I can always get people excited about that one ;-). Come and practice (play) with us between classes at The Hub. We've got lots of gentler variations that can help you find upper body strength and freedom at your own pace. Here's a video from last year with a nice variation we've been playing with on the bars at KYO (no unitard I promise!).