Driving, typing, reading, texting and plenty other daily activities can tense the upper body. When the arms are constantly pulled forward the shoulders roll in, the muscles of the chest tighten and the body starts to get pretty unhappy. Stiff neck, crunchy shoulders, achy arms, wrists and hands are all products of this forward hunch. Fortunately you don’t need to give up texting or driving to avoid this chain of tension, instead take a little time to unwind it. Try this short seated yoga practice to contrast the many activities that keep your upper half bound up with tension.
Sit with your right side facing a sturdy wall. The closer you are to the wall the more intense the stretch. If you find it too intense or uncomfortable, simply move further away from the wall.
Slide your right arm straight up the wall, fingertips reaching toward the ceiling. This will be a mild place to start. Hang here for a 5-7 breaths.
Next crawl your hand away from you along the wall until the arm comes to 45 degree angle, between 1 and 2 ‘o’clock. Explore a few degrees up or down until you find a sweet spot. Turn your head away from the wall to more deeply stretch the neck. Hold for 5-7 breaths.
Now crawl the right hand further back to create a 90 degree angle, about 3 o’ clock. This will likely provide the most sensation, and the most benefit. Hang here for as long as feels comfortable, perhaps 5-7 breaths.
To finish crawl your hand back up to 12 o’clock and gently let the hand slide down the wall and rest on your lap. When you are ready for the left side, turn around and repeat. When you are done with both sides take a moment to let your arms relax and observe an unfettered upper body.
Karly Railsback is a certified massage therapist and yoga teacher who lives, works and plays in San Francisco. She offers massage therapy and teaches yoga and meditation in public, private and corporate settings. Book sessions or learn more here.