If you are lucky enough to spend some time this summer near the water, I am certain I don’t have to tell you to dive in. Water invites us, it cools us and it brings out our inner child. After a pool play of handstands and Marco Polo or a salty session of wave riding, we can be left with imbalances or fatigue. While the water supports us in a special way, swimming can leave us sore and exhausted. Enjoy this slow yet reviving sequence to round out your day and leave you floating.
Shoulder Opener with Tented Fingers
Tent your fingers on one side and let the other arm lie flat, palm pointing down. Let the bent arm’s shoulder open by firmly pressing in to the opposite hand.
If you can, lean into the extended arm and bring your top foot behind you, bending the knee. The more you press into both hands, the deeper the stretch.
Deeply inhale as you count slowly to five and exhale slowly counting to five. Repeat this cycle for ten breaths, or until you feel your lungs expand. Swimming can cause us to take short sharp breaths and can leave us with a somewhat restricted feeling in our chest. Focusing on deep breathing is very beneficial to getting back to our natural breathing rhythm.
Keep a slight bend in your knees, as you press into the palms. Resist the urge to drop the chest too low, by slightly engaging the belly. Weight should be even between hands and feet.
Slowly bend one knee, keeping the ankle-knee connection strong. Extend into the outer foot of the extended leg, and try to keep the hips even. Repeat to both sides, and experiment with rocking slowly from side to side.
Press into both hands, and dip one shoulder forward, keeping weight in the feet, and sending the hips back. Use the other hand as leverage to play with the depth of the stretch. Repeat to both sides, taking time in the center to recalibrate.
Keep a slight bend in the knees, and let the head hang heavy as an extension of the spine. Press firmly into the hands, spreading the fingers. Reach the hips high into the sky, and reach the heels towards the ground.
Feel your breath moving in and out of your nose. Listen to the sounds around you and feel the state of your body. Each time you feel your mind wander, without judgement bring your attention back to the breath. Set your timer for 5, 10 or 15 minutes or allow yourself to continue as long as it takes to feel a bit more at ease.
Endeavor to reach the hands towards each other behind the back. Once the hands are connected, lean the head back into the top arm, and pressing the opposite shoulder back and down. If this rotation is too much for your shoulders, try the variation below.
Gomukasana Arms Variation
Cup the bent elbow with the opposite hand, and pull it in towards center, flaring the fingers wide between the shoulder blades. Broaden the collarbones and keep the rib cage closed.
Keep the front knee above the ankle and drop the back knee down, keeping the toes tucked. Let the hips be heavy, pulling the front hip back and the back hip forward. Drop the head or keep it upright and stay for 5 breaths. Find a downward dog and repeat to the other side.
This dancer’s pose is focused less on the back bend and more about the quadricep opening. Find all four corners of the standing foot, and experience opposition in pressing the lifted foot into the hand and reaching the other arm forward.
Keep the knees bent and let the chest come forward with the palms interlaced behind the back to open the shoulders.
Press down into the feet and the interlaced palms to reach the hips high. Keep the neck long on the ground, allowing the chest to reach towards the chin.
Place one hand on the heart, and one hand on the belly. Feel into your breathing.
Let the heels reach in towards the buttocks and extended the knees forward so the knees are an extension of the ankles. Grab opposite elbows over head and breath into the quads.
Feel the effects of the practice on your body, and relax into your natural breathing.