This hour-long audio class is designed to help you ease out tension in your shoulders. Most people I’ve ever met have some ache, discomfort or tweakiness here, perhaps from hunching over a screen or steering wheel, or from chronic stress, or both. I hope that by the end of this class you find yourself more comfortable and more relaxed, shoulders tingling pleasantly with all the new space and energy you’ve created there.

For this class you will need a roll or a block. You can make a roll out of a blanket, towel, cushion or spare yoga mat. It should be about six inches in diameter and not too squidgy.

As you explore the sensations you experience as you practice, you may find that you are habitually tensing your shoulders when you breathe in. Work with breathing low into the hips and belly, teaching your shoulders that they don’t need to help with breathing, keeping every breath soft and absorbent. Use your exhale to let your shoulders go, and don’t worry if you have to remind yourself to do this hundreds of times - be patient with yourself as you learn this new skill.

Below is the sequence, written out, in case you prefer to practise in silence. It includes some extra poses in brackets which are not on the recording, so if you have a bit more time you can extend your session on the mat to suit you. If you modify the sequence, stick to the basic idea of warming up to your most advanced pose and then warming down again afterwards, to keep your body safe. Never stretch into pain, and honour your edges. Hold each pose for 5-8 breaths each, or each side.

Any poses you don’t recognise you can look up on in the photo gallery, or you can Google* them (there are some great short videos showing how to do individual poses), or look them up in Ana’s book Fierce Medicine if you have a copy. When searching on the net, always add the word ‘Forrest’ into your search term, as some of the names are common to other forms of yoga, but the poses are done differently.

The sequence below (though not the audio version) includes one pose which is not Forrest Yoga - pelvic tilts. I learned this back-opening, soothing, gentle abs exercise from Forrest Yoga Guardian Cat Allen, as part of a webinar on pre- and post-natal yoga. You can find instructions for how to do it on, which I think is where Cat found the exercise originally. It is also included in the recording of Audio Class 2: Low Back, Mid Back.

*Or you could try the eco search engine Ecosia, which plants trees every time you use it!

The sequence:

  • (Wrist stretches)
  • 5 deep breaths, starting in hips, shoulders soft
  • Sivananda breath, expanding ribs sideways. 5 rounds.
  • (Cross leg forward bend)
  • Side bend and neck release
  • (Pelvic tilts x10)
  • Elbow to knee x5
  • Abs with a roll/block x5
  • (Bridge)
  • Dolphin Prelude
  • (Turbo Puppy)
  • Dolphin
  • (Sun Salutations, until you sweat)
  • B-series with three-pose vignettes:
    • Warrior II with Shoulder Shrugs > WII Birdwing > WII Eagle
    • Warrior I Unlocking the Shoulders > WI Archer > WI Chest Opener (with or without a wall)
    • Warrior II Kite Hawk > WII with hands clasped behind pelvis > Ostrich)
  • (Shower on the Wall)
  • Dorsal Fin, or any Dolphin variation you enjoy
  • Neck Release
  • Lying Down with Knees to Chest
  • Savasana (5 minutes)