In the final installment of Yoga for Firefighters, Shoulder Edition series, we will put together the poses from Parts 1 and 2 into a sequence.
First, get comfortable. Wear something that allows you to move freely, but not so loose that it falls over your head. Second, since you are going to be on the ground, I suggest you use a yoga mat. If you don’t have a mat, try a beach towel. You may want to consider a little extra padding for your knees, you can fold up a blanket or towel for this purpose.
And finally a word about music. There is a big debate in the yoga world about whether you should play music while doing/teaching yoga. I am on record as a big, fat YES. Maybe it’s just my mind being a bit too dark and twisty to be alone in, but I like a little distraction.
That being said, the classic, new age yoga music is not my thing. Instead, I use a wide mix of music for yoga, tunes that I like but are not too upbeat. I have found old Motown is the universally accepted genre, but use what you like.
Let’s start out with a brief warm up. I like to use a simple vinyasa as a warm-up. What’s that you say, a vin-what-sa? Vinyasa is a fancy yoga word for breathing and moving, all at the same time, it’s gets the circulation going and gives you a chance to practice a little deep breathing.
It’s quite easy, start out by standing with your hands down at your side. With a big inhale, roll your palms up, thumbs back and lift your arms up over your head. Pause.
Then with a big, exaggerated exhale, bend your knees, to protect the low back, and swan dive down over the legs to a forward fold. Get yourself a nice roll going at a comfortable pace, inhaling up exhaling down, and continue for a full minute.
Here are some forward fold pointers.
After this brief warm up, let’s start out by getting and holding the shoulders in proper alignment with Extended Mountain/Upward Salute for 5 long breaths.
The details of this pose, as well as, Reverse Tabletop and Spinal Balance are here: http://nextlevelyoga.net/2015/04/29/yoga-for-firefighters-shoulder-edition-part-2/
After Extended Mountain, let’s work on some strength in Reverse Tabletop. Take this pose two times for about 3-5 long breaths, with a 30 second rest.
After Reverse Tabletop, lets stretch out the back of the shoulder in Thread the Needle, for about 30 seconds to 1 minute per side (or 5-10 long breaths). The details of this pose, as well as, Anterior Shoulder Opener and Puppy pose are here: http://nextlevelyoga.net/2015/04/26/yoga-for-firefighters-shoulder-edition-part-1/
Now let’s hit the deck and move into Anterior Shoulder Opener for about 30 seconds to 1 minute per side (or 5-10 long breaths).
From here, push up to hands and knees, and move into Puppy pose for 30 seconds (5 breaths).
Finally, let’s finish this thing with a nice Supine Spinal twist for at least a minute per side.
For those of you who don’t need the visual, here is a list of the poses and times:
Warm up Swan Dive Vinyasa 1 minute
Extended Mountain/Upward Salute, 5 breaths
Reverse Tabletop, two sets 3-5 breaths each
Thread the Needle, 30 secs/1 min. each side (5-10 breaths)
Anterior Shoulder Opener, 30 sec/1 min. each side (5-10 breaths)
Puppy Pose, 30 seconds (3-5 breaths)
Supine Spinal Twist, 1 minute each side (10 breaths)
Total time- about 10 minutes
Give this a try a 3 or 4 times a week and see if you notice a difference in your shoulder health and performance.
If you are interested in trying an all-level yoga class, I have an open class which meets on Wednesday evenings at CPW Health Center, contact me for more information. Also, if you would like a live Yoga For Firefighters class, contact Lt. Joe Clark, or the Toledo Firefighters Health Plan and let them know you are interested.
Tara Kestner, RYT 200