Updated: Feb 21, 2020
I recently had a private client mention that she thought this sequence is life changing for her! I thought if it received that strong of a review I should share it with all of you as well.
So a little background as to why this sequence is used so often in my classes and privates. I find that a lot of folks hold the weight of the world on their shoulders and as a
consequence, head, neck, and shoulders often get tense causing a lot of pain and discomfort. I had one private client who loved this sequence for the end of her Pilates practices with me. It helped any discomfort building through the week, and create space and relief for the week ahead. I do this sequence a lot on both my Pilates classes as well as my yoga classes. Some folks request it on a weekly basis! Great for postnatal client! It opens up those tight chests, and arms! Great on a bolster, 1/2 foam roller, or full foam roller. My favorite is the full foam roller because you can incorporate some core stabilization with it as well. I've included some Pilates-esc abdominal wall work after the neck, shoulders, and arms if you would like some gentle core work as well. Whole sequence can take up 20 minutes if you go slow, steady, and mindfulness. Remember to breath with the invitation of the breath.
So here we go:
Everyones Favorite Shoulder and Neck Release Sequence:
Lay entire spine on the foam roller (head and booty).
Begin with a few rounds of breath to see how things settle before you begin movement.
Start with the arms in a T and roll to the sides without rolling off the foam roller.
Protract/retract shoulders: bring fingertips to the ceiling then, reach for the sky and then plug back into the shoulder joint. Should feel the shoulder blades move away from foam roller and then hug the foam roller. Some days it may be nice to do some small circles here if knots are present.
Arm arches: lifting the arms over head on an inhale and exhale brings the arms back beside you. Watch the ribs. For more core work make sure ribs don’t splay up and out. Focus on the tip of the sternum to pubic bone alignment. You can add the alternating arms with gentle neck stretch. For example, right arm lifts and you gaze over left shoulder.
Lat Pull variation: arms in a cactus or field goal shape and then draw elbows into the ribs. Inhale return to the cactus shape and exhale draw in. Try to feel the abs interlace in on the exhales.
Rotator cuff: cactus shape with palms facing upward and then face them to the ground. Being mindful of any extra tension. Try not to add tension, to avoid this, elbows can be drawn in and closer to the body.
Then onto the abdominal series if you have additional time:
Arms can be in a T, beside you, or just the fingertips to manage balance.
Toe taps | 3 variations : begin with one leg do about 8-10reps then alternate right and left. 8-10reps. Inhale to tap the toe, exhale to draw the leg back to tabletop. Then you can do both legs together. The further you toe tap away from the body the more aggressive it is. Keep an eye for tension in head, neck or shoulders. You don’t want those guys involved. So dial back if you need to. Note: If you have SI, or sacral issues I recommend doing onside 8-10x before doing the other side vs alternating back and forth which could potentially aggravate it.
The fun one | Balance : begin with both legs in tabletop, one leg can reach long, as you draw opposite arm to the sky then over head, exhale come back to center, alternate leg, arm, try to stay grounded in the breath. Have fun with it! Laugh!
Bridge: inhale, lift hips, exhale, massage the spine down.
Rest. Roll to the side, let the foam roller roll from you and enjoy all the yummy space you created.
Try not to rush and enjoy.
I hope you feel some release!!
Just a note on "everybody"- Not everybody loves this, and some folks do not like being on the bolster so please give yourself permission to do it on the bolster or floor! You are your own best advocate!
Note on cover image: You can also enjoy the foam roller with a bit of a supported backbend like in photo. Slide booty off the foam roller about a fist distance away from the prop. Legs can be bent, feet on floor, or legs long, or in cobbler/butterfly. Rest 5-10minutes.