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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Stretch of the Month: Flying Angel Chest Opener

Spring is here and we are ready to soar! The Flying Angel Chest Opener will stretch your pectoral muscles resulting in a more open chest, easeful breathing, and better posture. This pose uses the floor as resistance to roll back the shoulder and increase the pectoral stretch. Remember to warm up before you try it out, especially through the shoulder joint, as it is a very intense stretch. By the end of the month you'll feel like you're standing up taller, breathing better, and ready to wear those spring tank tops!

-Lie down with your front side on the floor.
-Take your arms out to your sides to form a T position. Bend your right arm and place the palm on the floor close to your shoulder. The left arm will remain straight with the palm faced down to the floor.
-Cross your right leg behind the left so that your right hip stacks on top of the left. Your right toes should still be in contact with the floor.
-Internally rotate your left arm so that the back of the hand is in contact with the floor and your thumb is pointing towards your feet.
-Reach the right arm behind you and interlace the fingers of the right and left hands.
-Pull your fists away from your body and move your chest forward.
-Take 3-5 deep breaths, release, and practice on the other side.

Modifications: "What if...?"

"I can't do this on the floor..." Take a similar position at a wall. You will start facing the wall with your left arm extended at the wall at shoulder height. Keep it there as you move the chest away from the wall. You can also stretch both sides of the chest at a doorway. Stand in the doorway with both arms out to your sides and elbows bent. Place the forearms on the sides of the doorway. Move your chest forward until you feel the stretch.

"My neck hurts and my head is hanging down to the floor..." Use a block, rolled up blanket, or small pillow underneath your head.

"I can't balance on my side..." Make sure both feet are in contact with the floor. Pull your belly button in towards your spine.

"My elbows are hyper-extended..." Keep your elbows slightly bent and try to keep your palms touching as you pull the arms away from the body.