From your belly, place fingertips over your head, a little wider than your shoulders. Keeping your head neutral, lift your elbows towards the sky. Lengthen your side body from hips to armpits. Soften the heart and pull the arm bones into the sockets. Curl shoulder blades down the back and into your heart. Extend forward to rise up. Lower down and slide your hands a few inches back towards your hips. Again, soften your heart and pull arm bones into the sockets. Draw scapulae down the back and lift up. Slide hands back another few inches and follow the same instructions. Then move into regular Cobra Pose applying the same principles. Once in Cobra, move the top of the thoracic spine (around shoulder height) and the bottom of the cervical spine (around shoulder height) in toward the front body and take chin up for an extra stretch.
Cow Face Pose
This pose creates an opening in the upper arms, stretching muscles deep within the shoulders. From Staff Pose, extend your right arm up next to your right ear, and your left arm down close to your left side. Bend the left arm across the back and up so that the fingers reach the mid-back between the shoulder blades. Bend the right elbow so your right fingers reach toward your left fingers. If possible, allow the fingers to connect; if not, use a strap. Pull lightly. Stay in the posture for 8–10 breaths; repeat on the other side.
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
From hands and knees, align hands directly beneath shoulders and knees directly beneath hips. Press the index knuckle down to engage your forearms. Lift the armpits up toward the ears. Use gravity to soften and melt arm bones into the sockets. Keeping the arms straight, lift the lower body into Downward-Facing Dog Pose while the rest of the body stays the same. Keep armpits lifted like you’re taking the inner eye of the armpits forward. Then stretch heels back into the full pose without dropping the armpits. Puff the kidneys.
Front Chest Opener
Stand facing a wall and brace yourself with your left fingertips at shoulder level. Place your right elbow and forearm against the wall slightly higher than shoulder height. Take a breath in and lift your armpits and rib cage up toward your ears so the sides of your body get long. As you pull your shoulder heads, head and neck back, curl the upper thoracic spine in and up. Keep your chin open. Maintaining this alignment, exhale and turn your feet to the left, increasing the stretch to the chest. Repeat on the other side.