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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Cat Stretch

Okay, here is a yoga pose that, seriously, cured that annoying pinched nerve on my left shoulder/neck that has been there for many years. It's a pose that I now try to incorporate into my teaching/ classes. 

Quite an intense back bend there ...

It's a very, very deep spinal stretch (see photo). I obviously don't have the flexibility to go as deep as the lady above (you need to have quite a flexible spine to have the knees so close to the chest, which is pressed onto the ground). At the beginning, my chest could barely touch the floor without sliding my knees all the way back ... so I looked like I was just lying on the floor faced down. 

Gradually though, my knees got closer while keeping my chest down. But I had this issue, when my chest - and chin - are pressed on the ground, my left shoulder/neck area was SO tight (explains my pinched nerve?) that my left upper arm/elbow would lift off the ground and it took many, many breaths in the pose to finally lower it down without causing too much pain.

So I had that problem for awhile ... in the meantime, my to-go-to teacher gets us to do lots of back bending in his vinyasa sequence so my spine, especially middle and lower back, has gained much flexibility over the past six months. That must have helped. Now, I can have my knees slightly closer to my chest when I'm in this cat stretch -- I can feel the middle back arching a lot. So I do warm up with some back bending before knee, chest, chin down. 

But MOST amazingly, when I do cat stretch now, my left upper arm/elbow no longer lifts off the ground and there is NO pain around my left shoulder neck area, whether in or out of the pose. So, if I have to recommend any yoga pose for people who have very stiff shoulders, this would be the one! Try it out ... it's a great pose to relax in ... but remember to warm up first ^^ 

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