• To the Hilo High Vikings: Establishing Balance & Three Poses for the Shoulders

    In yoga, it is believed that establishing balance between ease (sukha) and steadiness (sthira) AND knowing which quality is useful in a given situation, is essential for health and vitality.  Sukha is the development of flexibility, relaxation, surrender, calm awareness, non-reactivity and empathy.  Sthira is the development of strength, power, steadiness, alert awareness, selective reactivity and confidence.  Another belief arises from the observation that the way we move affects how we think, react and relate to others, and vice versa.


    For example, think about the type of physical activities you do immediately before a game…you get your heart rate up, stimulate your adrenal system (these are the “fight, flight or freeze” conditions), and stimulate your state of alertness.  That is an example of sthira.  Lying on the grass would not be effective!  However, you simultaneously avoid over-exerting yourself because then you may not have sufficient energy for the game itself.  Conserving your energy is an example of sukha, and mentally discriminating that the football field is an appropriate place to be aggressive while the classroom is not, is a way to apply this in a broader sense.


    For the sake of balance, during our yoga classes we primarily focus on stretching because you naturally get the strength component of your training from weight lifting and conditioning. Mentally, you need an opportunity to relax and focus that does not involve zoning out as you do while sleeping, watching TV, playing video games, etc. 


    Additionally, consider how we use the dominant side of our bodies (e.g., are you right- or left-handed?) more than the other in our everyday activities such as talking on the phone, writing, and carrying stuff.  This leads to imbalance.  One side of our bodies tends to get tighter or stronger, or is more prone to injury than the other, especially in contact sports like football! 


    One of the ways this is showing up in your bodies is in the shoulder pain that many of you consistently report.  This week I would like to focus on three things for the shoulders:  balance between right and left shoulders, stability of the entire shoulder girdle (i.e., chest, shoulders and upper back), and mobility of the shoulders.

    1. Balance between right and left: lace your fingers together behind your lower back, bend both elbows equally, and gently stretch your chest while guiding shoulders blades closer together and down your back.  Hold for 10 slow, even breaths.
    2. Stability of the shoulder girdle: It may seem counterintuitive because it looks like core work (it is!), but it is also good for the shoulders.  Come into a plank pose on your forearms.  Keep your abdomen drawn in and strong, keep your hips at the same height as the top of your shoulders…if you sag at the hip, you are basically straining your lower back and shoulders.  If you lift your hips up too high, like a triangle, it is not as efficient for stabilization.   Make sure to keep your chest open and shoulders drawn back like in #1.  Hold for 10 slow breaths.
    3. Mobility of shoulders: Simply roll only your right shoulder 10 times, then your left.  Finish by rolling both of them simultaneously.  Slow steady movements are ideal.





    P.S.  GREAT game on Friday! 



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