In my opinion the simple act of pushing the shoulders to the
floor can remodel the upper body, making it easier to put on muscle and relieve
tension and strain. We all walk around, sit, and sleep in our beds with raised
shoulders. This is not the way our body was designed to hold itself and it
introduces tension into the shoulder blades, neck and arms. This tension affects
us in an adverse way psychologically. In Pilates they recommend pushing the
ears away from the shoulders. In yoga it can be part of Tadasana or “mountain
My favorite way to perform this isometric stretch is to lay
on the floor:
Lie down on the floor on your back and slightly
tuck your shoulder blades underneath you.
Put your arms at your sides, raise them to the
level of your hips, and push down as if you were reaching for your knees.
Do this for several seconds at a time breathing
It is really that simple. As long as you are breathing slowly
and deeply your nervous system will start to embrace this posture. After a few
sessions try walking around like this. With time you will notice that the
muscles throughout your back and chest work together dynamically to push your
shoulders down. It actually allows the chest and back to push against each
other antagonistically. The more they can push against each other, the more
they can coax each other to grow. Their synergistic relationship will even
cause the base of the neck to become stronger and more healthy. This posture is
the “core” of the upper body and it lends strength and poise to all upper body
movements. It will help you grow stronger and help to improve your overall
Other poses that complement this one:
Clasp the hands together behind the back, press
the hands back and down and arch the chest upward and forward.
Bend over reaching toward the ground with the
hands clasped and arch the chest inward (backward, the other way) and hold.
Simply raise the hands and arms above the head
for a few minutes at a time while arching the chest inward, outward and
laterally to each side.
Stand straight with the elbows bent, press the
elbows toward the ground and make small circles with the elbows as if you were
flapping chicken wings.
I do these 4 exercises for prolonged periods while walking
and together, over the course of a year they have changed my life.