Shoulder Stretches For Ex Smokers
You can actually preview this book on amazon. It's easy to read and the instructions are straight forward and step by step.
If you haven't read the breathing exercises for ex smokers article I'd suggest reading it first. It provides some of the background for these stretches.
These three shoulder stretches work on the front and back of the chest and shoulders.
I'd say that the first is the most important for ex smokers since it stretches the front of the shoulder and twists the ribcage.
Stretching the Heart and Lung Meridians
By stretching the front of the shoulder and arm you help to open the heart and lung meridian which run along the front of the shoulder and down the front of each arm.
By twisting the ribcage you not only twist the thoracic spine, the part of the spine to which the ribs attach, you also stretch the intercostal muscles which are between each set of ribs. This leads to a more flexible ribcage which means an improved ability to breathe deeper using the Ex-smokers breathing method. Plus, this stretch can make you feel really good…. after you have done it.
Since this stretch focuses on the front of the chest and shoulders i've also included two stretches that work on the back of the shoulders.
The first stretch I often refer to as lapasana after the teacher I learned it from. You lay on your belly with your right hand to the side, palm down. Keep your palm down and roll the left side of your ribcage off of the floor. Focus on relaxing the front of your right shoulder and keep your palm facing down. Bend your knees, keeping your feet on the floor, gently lift your knees.
Allow (rather than force) your left butt cheek to move towards the ground. Because this is a twist, breathe into your ribcage. Better yet, slowly and slightly move your head back relative to your ribcage to inhale and then forwards to exhale.
You may want to do this stretch twice. The first time to warm up and the second to gradually go deeper. When I first started doing it, it was very uncomfortable. Go as deep as you are comfortable and then focus on breathing. Focus on feeling your ribs move as you inhale and exhale.
To release, slowly roll your belly on to the floor.
Relax with your chin on your hands before doing the other side.
The next stretch is called half dragonfly.
While laying on your belly reach your right arm across your chest to your left with your palm facing up. Keep your right shoulder on the floor. Position your arm so that your forearm is just ahead of your left shoulder.
Rest your left hip on the floor and slowly sink the left side of your ribcage and left shoulder down to the floor.
Focus on relaxing each time your exhale.
When you inhale you can look down and slightly lift your head. As you do so you may notice an increase in the pressure on your arm as you add weight to the stretch. Slowly lower your head to the floor and relax as you exhale.
Rest with your chin on your hands before doing the other side.
The final stretch i call "cross arm stretch." It stretches the back of your ribcage and also the muscles that attach your shoulder blades to your spine (trapezius and rhomboids.)
Sit upright with your legs infront of you and your knees bend upwards. Cross your arms and grab the outside of the opposite foot.
Pull your ribcage back, away from your feet. It should feel like you are pulling your ribcage away from your shoulders. You can try rounding your back as you do so. Make the stretch slightly different by straightening your spine and pulling your head back and up as you inhale.
Keep your ribcage pulling back as you allow your head to sink forwards while exhaling.
Recross your arms with the other arm on top and repeat.
If you are interested in more stretches for your shoulders check out sensational yoga poses shoulder stretches.