The pose is actually quite physically challenging, so it’s a good pose to turn to when you’re feeling lethargic or restless. Because it releases muscular tension from your shoulders, neck, and back, it’s a perfect antidote to sitting in front of a keyboard or holding onto a steering wheel.
The standing version is very compact so you can do it in small space, like at the back of an airplane. However, you can also do the pose seated on a chair or in seated on the floor in Seated Crossed-Legs position, Hero pose, or the classic Cow-Face pose leg position.
Baxter prescribes this pose for:
- general stiffness and tightness in your shoulders
- stiffness in your upper back, especially if you have kyphosis of the spine (Dowager’s Hump)
- improving inner and outer rotation of your arm bones (you could use it, carefully, to address rotator cuff immobility)
- discomfort in your middle or upper back
- preparation for inversions like Forearm Balance (Pincamayurasana) and backbends
Next, bring you left arm into position by swinging it forward and up overhead. Turn your left hand toward the wall behind you, bend your elbow and drop your fingertips down toward your left shoulder blade. A few of you will be able to bring your two hands together, gently clasping your fingertips. The rest of us mere mortals can grab onto the top of the strap with your left hand, and carefully work both hands closer to each other along the strap. When you start to feel an increasing sensation on your arms, stop so you don’t over do it. Be aware of the tendency of your elbows to swing out away from the sides of your body, and if necessary firm your elbows back toward the sides of your body.
Cautions: If you have any pain in your shoulder joint, back up until you are pain free. Be especially aware of pain in your bottom arm, as the upper arm area can get pinched. If the pose causes too discomfort for your bottom arm, just do the top arm part of the exercise. Then, for your bottom arms, you can hold both elbows behind your back (coming soon!).