Everyday practice tip

Being a yoga teacher is a full time job, whether you are teaching or not. How? By being trained for years to observe people and their bodies in class, it carries on into everything you do. It becomes such a habit. 

One observation I make over and over again, is how so many suffer from stiffness in their upper back and shoulders in their everyday life. Years ago my teacher Aadil Palkhivala taught us this very simple and effective practice that you can do whenever you're sitting on a chair with a backrest. 

Interlace your fingers and support the back of your head with your interlaced hands. Look at your upper arms and make them parallel and then keep them so. Keep your feet firmly on the ground. Press the sitting bones into the seat of the chair and pull the lowest part of your belly in and up toward the chest. Then lean back over the backrest as far as you can. Breathe calmly and let the upper back fold backward over the chair. Stay there for 5-10 long breaths. To target another part of the back move your bum forward or back on the seat and then do the same. 

I recommend that you do this several times per week if your upper back feels stiff and tense. You will notice that it becomes easier to breathe as well. And the great thing is that you don't have to wait to get to a yoga class to do this; you can do it anywhere. I often do it in the middle of choir practice as well....

Tove Palmgren