MOAR’s Daily Dozen: DAY 7 – Prone Shoulder Opener



  1. Come to a prone position, laying belly to mat, face down. Bring your arms to a “T”.
  2. Take your left hand to the mat underneath the shoulder, elbow bent and pointing up. Push into that hand and peel your chest off the mat.
  3. Bend your left leg behind the right, placing the sole of the foot to the mat.
  4. Make sure your neck is relaxed, head resting on the mat.
  5. If this is already intense, stay as is. If you want to go deeper, bring your left hand behind your back and interlace the fingers with your right hand. Only do it this if you can reach your right hand without shifting the arm down toward your feet.
  6. Take 10 deep breaths on the right shoulder then change sides.

How it will heal you:

Shoulder Pain: Football, lacrosse, and baseball players know shoulder pain. As a yogi, I can also vouch for the frequency of shoulder injuries in yoga–a misaligned jump-back to chatturunga is one of the fastest ways to wreck your rotator cuffs. Shoulders, like hips, are a ball-in-socket joint and thus are designed to have a broad ROM (range of motion). Athletes and office bees alike experience a lot of shoulder pain because not enough attention gets paid to maintaining the flexibility of this critical joint. Increase the openness of your wrists, chest and upper back to prevent and treat discomfort. Additionally, focusing on contralateral movement (i.e. twists) will help to eliminate rigidity from the upper body.

Wrist Problems: Football, lacrosse, baseball, tennis and basketball players are incredibly susceptible to wrist injuries. Amongst others, yogis should be added to that list–just ask two of my fellow yoga teachers who went through training with me and are still modifying their Down Dog months later. In order to avoid wrist issues, it’s critical that you build strong forearms, biceps, triceps, shoulders and upper back. Like all other joints, it’s also important to maintain ROM (range of motion) and flexibility in the joint itself as well as the elbows and shoulders so that the body can maintain proper form and alignment when generating power and movement from the upper body and arms.

Neck Pain: From foundational issues in the ankles and feet to the top of the tower, the neck is a critical player in athletic endeavors and requires great care.  Having had two of the most important people in my life suffer debilitating neck breaks, I really can’t stress this one enough. Full rotation of the neck makes all the difference in any sport you play. How else are you going to see your opponent coming up behind you to try and steal the ball away? And with a fastball speeding toward you, you want to be able to turn your neck and see that baby coming!  Unfortunately, like the feet and ankles, the neck is often neglected when it comes to stretching and strength training. Avoid that pitfall with the postures in this post.

MOAR’s Daily Dozen: 12 Yoga Poses for Post-Athletic Recovery to Do Every Day

Over the next 12 days, I am going to walk you through my Daily Dozen Yoga Poses for Post-Athletic Recovery.  Work on each pose for a few minutes each day and at the end of the 12 days try stringing them together, holding 10 breaths per side (if applicable). The whole sequence should take you between 20-25 minutes. My suggestion? Do it while watching an episode of Modern Family or Arrested Development and make it a happy ritual rather than a chore.

Wide Legged Forward Fold

MOAR’s Daily Dozen:

  1. Hero’s Pose
  2. High Plank w/ Flipped Hands
  3. Dolphin
  4. Wide-Legged Forward Fold
  5. Low Lunge w/ Twist
  6. Half Split
  7. Prone Shoulder Opener
  8. Plow
  9. Half Pigeon
  10.  Seated Spinal Twist
  11. Reclining Figure-4
  12. Reclining Shoelace

These postures were specifically selected to help fortify your body against the top ten sports-related injuries, which are in no particular order…

  1. Achilles tendonitis
  2. Plantar fasciitis
  3. Ankle sprains
  4. Wrist problems
  5. Shoulder pain
  6. Hamstring pulls
  7. Hip pain
  8. Knee injuries
  9. Lower back strain
  10.  Neck strain

If you lead an active lifestyle, chances are you have dealt with at least half of that list. The best way to prevent these common sports-related injuries is to work on increasing your flexibility and ROM (range of motion) on a daily basis. We are constantly stressing our muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons and most of us barely do two minutes of stretching post-physical activity, let alone a solid 20 minutes.

Check back every day for a new posture how-to and learn about the different injuries it will help you prevent and treat. At the end of the 12 days, I encourage you to come back to this post and try the entire sequence in succession. If you can work these stretches into your routine three to five days a week, you’ll be well on your way to a flexible, strong and injury-free body.

As always, I welcome your feedback and would love to hear what you think!

MoYoga on Supported Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana)

Salamba Sirsasana, or supported headstand, like all yoga inversion postures is a great way to find both energy and calm. By flipping your world upside-down, you’re allowing for increased blood drainage from your lower extremities, as well as your lymph nodes. When you come out of the posture and into child’s pose, you’re flushing your entire body with fresh, oxygenated blood. This is an incredibly active pose and works everything from the forearms and shoulders to the abs and back muscles to your thighs and even feet.

The key to this asana is to approach it without ego and with a sense of adventure. Inversions are often scary for people, but the only way you’ll get injured is if you don’t listen to your body. In the beginning, take it slow and use a wall. Having both the support and peace-of-mind that something is there to catch you if you fall is a great way to get comfortable and kickstart this element of your practice.

Now, let’s break it down step by step…

STEP 1: Set up your yoga mat, kneeling somewhere in the bottom half. In order to find the proper spot to place your head, take your wrist joint and place it on the tip of your nose, fingertips reaching up to the sky. Wherever your middle finger lands–somewhere between your hairline and the crown of your head–is where you’ll want to set your head down. Keep in mind that from an anatomical standpoint the closer to the crown of your head you base this asana, the more neutral your spine will remain.

All Photos by Leo Matsuo

STEP 2: Place your head down on the mat in front of you, using the spot you found in step 1. Lace your fingers together and cup your head. Your forearms will frame your head and neck on the floor, elbows at shoulder width. Press your inner wrists firmly into the floor.


STEP 3: Send your booty up and back, coming into down dog legs. From the side you should look like an inverted “V.” Fire up your thighs, actively lifting your kneecaps to engage your quadriceps. Walk your feet in towards your elbows, keeping your heels elevated. The closer your feet come to your elbows, the more your hips come over your shoulders; this will bring you into better alignment from the get-go, making it easier to stay solid once your legs rise up and overhead. Draw your shoulder blades in and down, flattening them against your upper back to keep your front torso lengthened.


STEP 4: Root down through your forearms, exhale and lift your feet away from the ground. There are two ways to do this: (1) by lifting one straightened leg  to the sky, then powering your other leg up to meet with the first using core and glute strength, or (2) taking both feet up at the same time by bending your knees and hopping lightly off the floor (see above). I am demonstrating the second option because I find it to be a slightly easier place to start. If you chose the second option, engage your abs–drawing belly button into spine–and lift your legs straight up and overhead with control.

Either way you choose to go, avoid using momentum. If you aren’t quite ready to rise up using muscle strength (core power!), you can use a wall and add a little more kick into the process. Please heed my warning above and check your ego at the door before trying this asana.


STEP 5: Finally with your legs perpendicular to the floor, tuck your tailbone in and down. Lift up and out of your shoulders and neck by rotating your upper thighs inward, engaging your adductors and abductors. Your feet should be directly over your hips, which should be aligned over the crown of your head. Try to keep your weight evenly balanced on both forearms by continually tucking your tailbone, engaging your abs, and firing up every single muscle in your legs. It helps me to demi/Barbie-point my feet, sending energy through the balls of my big toes.


If you’re just getting started, aim to stay inverted for 10 seconds (2-3 deep breaths). You can gradually tack time onto this until you can comfortably hold the pose for 5 min. To come out of it, slowly bring your legs down the same way they went up with an exhalation. Be sure not to lose the lift in your shoulder blades.

When both feet touch the floor, sit back onto your knees, bring your chest forward onto your thighs, and rest in child’s pose. You deserve it!