Stand erect, feet hips distance apart (about 6 inches), parallel and toes pointing straight ahead. Lift the knee caps up to firm the thighs. Tone and lift the abdominals upwards towards the ribcage. Though the shoulders and shoulder blades will be moving throughout the exercises, attempt to maintain an easy feeling around the top of the shoulders, neck, jaw and facial muscles. Keep the head on top of the spine, gazing steadily at the horizon, perhaps at a beautiful sunrise or sunset.
- Set-up: Hands wide on the band. Arms stay straight throughout. Arms start in front of the body, chest height and slightly below the shoulders.
Action and breath: Inhale the arms above the head. Exhale the arms behind the body in a circular motion. Maintain tension on the band at all times. Inhale the band back above the head. Exhale to return the band to the starting position.
- Set-up: Hands hold the band behind the body with a narrow grip and rest at the top of the pelvic rim. Elbows are bent and gently drawn in towards each other.
Action and breath: Inhale to float the arms off of the body, feeling the ribcage expand behind you. Exhale to float the arms back to the starting position.
- Set-up: Hands hold the band wide above the head with tension. Arms stay straight throughout.
Action and breath: Inhale to pull the right arm against the right ear as the left arm stretches back behind you in a wide circular motion. Exhale to steady the body and set the arms in their new position. Both palms face the body. Stay for a few breaths as you fully engage both arms without twisting or side bending the torso.
Repetitions: 3 sets holding each for 3-5 breaths. Or flow between sides 5-10 times.
- Set-up: Hands hold the band behind the body with a narrow grip and rest at the top of the pelvic rim. Elbows are bent and drawn in towards each other.
Action and breath: Inhale to elevate the arms backwards and upwards, both pressing out on the band with the hands and squeezing the elbows towards each other. Hold the contraction while breathing steadily. Exhale to return the hands to the starting position. Rest.
Repetitions: Hold the contraction for 10 seconds. Rest the arms for 10 seconds. Repeat 5-10 times.
- Set-up: Fold the band in half. Hold the band above the head shoulder distance apart.
Action and breath: Inhale and strongly pull the band apart, bending the elbows widely. pulling the band down behind the head to the nape of the neck. Exhale as you return the band to the starting position while continuing to strongly pull the band apart. Ok to bring band in front of head if shoulders feel too restricted.
- Set-up: Fold the band in half. Hold the band behind your body with a narrow grip.
Action and breath: With the left hand, pull the right hand and lower arm across the lower back towards the top of the hip until you feel a stretch. Breathe deeply and fully focusing on opening the front of the shoulder, chest and arm. Do not collapse in the spine or twist the torso. Keep the back of the ribs open and expanding behind you. Repeat with the left arm.
Repetitions: 1 on each side holding 5-10 breaths
- Set-up: (No band) Raise right arm straight by your ear. Bend the elbow.
Action and breath: Use the opposite arm to gently bring the right arm closer to the ear, rotate the upper arm internally and lift the elbow upwards towards the sky. Breathe fully and deeply throughout. Repeat on the other side.
Repetitions: 3 on each side holding 5-10 breaths
- Set-up: (No band) Cross the right arm deeply over the left. Bend the elbows at the elbow crease. Twist the arms like ropes until the backs of the hands or palms are facing each other. Modification is crossing elbows and giving yourself a big hug around the upper back, or placing your hands on top of your shoulders.
Action and Breath: Lift the elbows up in line with shoulders while keeping the shoulder blades descending down the back. Press hands away from you. Breathe fully and deeply.
Repetitions: 3 on each side holding 5-10 breaths
- Set-up: Hold band behind the back shoulder distance apart. Keep a soft bend in the elbows. Stand with feel wider apart still in parallel.
Action and breath: Inhale to lift arms away from the body. Exhale to round the spine forward towards the floor. Bend the knees to protect the hamstrings and back. Use abdominal power to support the movement throughout. Continue to inhale to inflate the lungs and free restriction in the legs, pelvis, spine, shoulders and neck. Exhale to bring the arms further up and over the head, deepening the shoulder stretch.
To come up, release the strap to the floor and let the arms dangle like noodles towards the floor in front of you. Stand strongly into the feet. lift the abdominals in and up, and roll the spine up one bone at a time until you are once again standing erect. The head is the last thing to come up.
Repetitions: 1 time. Hold as long as you like.
Do the full sequence or a portion of the sequence. If you find one or two that really work do them a couple of times throughout the day. My teachers always said, do these exercises 3 times 3 times daily and you will see a dramatic difference. Most of all have fun and feel good!
Stay tuned for more routines for the rest of the body. Be well!