I discovered an ingenious way to add (what seems like) two inches to my reach — loosen up my shoulders. I’ve been concentrating on doing some simple routines over the past 2-3 weeks to increase flexibility in my shoulders, and it’s had a ripple effect across my practice and my torso. Suddenly, I find it much easier to reach the floor in forward bends or similar poses. Camel (Ustrasana) becomes easier to get into, rather than blind backward flaying in search of my heels. It also translates into longer flanks, because the farther your shoulders rise, the more your side can stretch.
I also discovered that once your shoulders are loose, it is much easier to move your shoulder blades together and down your back — I can actually feel them float down as I relax. I now realize that although I heard my instructors to manipulate my shoulder blades, I hadn’t the slightest idea of what I was doing.
All this softening means that it’s easier to open my chest more deeply. I start hearing cartilage popping and creaking.
And when I say “discover,” I am speaking facetiously.