Updated: May 27
Closed chest and shoulders, why it's beneficial to open the area.
An open chest exudes vitality, youth and confidence, but this is just on the surface. If you look at individuals with depression, or low self esteem you may notice a closing in on themselves, a form of self protection. People with heart concerns often present with a closing of the front chest area, learning to open the lungs, to expand the chest is imperative.
Sit up straight, take your shoulders back - let's refine it.
Stand within a doorway, place your forearms along the door frame. Elbows the same height as your shoulders, unless this is difficult, then lower the elbows to the point of no discomfort.
Check in with your shoulders, make sure they are not creeping up towards your ears. Keep the ears over the shoulders, not forward.
Begin to bring your chest forward through the door frame. Don't dump the belly forward, move top of buttocks down.
Learn to lift the bottom half of the sternum bone up towards the ceiling.
Lean into the door frame to move the front of the shoulders back, taking the shoulder blades down and towards each other at approximately a 45° angle.
Release the arms from the door frame and once again sit/stand up straight, your body will find better alignment once it has been shown where to move.
Practice this regularly to maintain a healthy chest and shoulder alignment.
Check in what is actually moving through the door frame - is it the chin, or the chest? Many will lead with the chin, focus on the area that sits just infront of the armpit, move that forward.
Discomfort in the lower back - keep moving the top of the buttocks down, you are likely over arching your lumbar spine.
Will any doorway work - as long as your forearms can reach the door frame, the doorway will work. The above picture's doorway is wider than normal, a regular doorway will help access the area easier.
Sweet spot - a way to tell if you're accessing the correct area is when the skin bunches together in the area just above between the shoulder blades (in the above picture from the back, the area where the red straps meet the back scoop of the white shirt)
How it helps:
Shoulders - by using the feedback of the door frame, you are able to access the front of the shoulders (or more precisely the front of the armpits) more easily. Using hard feedback is a valuable tool in teaching the body where you want it to move.
Neck - being able to access the trapezius muscles and shoulder alignment also helps to release neck tension.
Look around - next time you're out and about, look at the people around you. Which postures seem more alive to you, exudes vitality and confidence?
Creating a healthier body can be overwhelming...
Taking one moment at a time to relieve an ache or pain can make a goal more achievable, and worth your time.
Wishing you great health, Tanya
Tanya is a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher based out of Abbotsford, BC Canada. She has been teaching since 2015, strictly online since March 2020. Tanya volunteers her time as a board member for the BKS Iyengar Yoga Association Vancouver. Her greatest joy is being able to help discover movement.