1. Stand with your feet spread hip width apart with your arms relaxed at your sides. Notice how your shoulders feel. Does one shoulder feel like it is higher than the other? Get a sense of the distance from the tip of one shoulder to the other. Is your head balanced over your shoulders or is it poking forward a bit or tilted to one side?
Bring your right arm up towards the ceiling and notice how much effort is involved and how the right shoulder and the right side of the neck feel as you do this. Try the same with the left arm. Which arm feels heavier? Then bring both arms out to the sides at shoulder height and observe how much effort is required to keep the arms up. Finally, bring your arms back down to your sides and make circles with your shoulders, first a few times in a forward direction, and then a few times backwards. How smooth is this movement? Which shoulder is freer?
For the following movement explorations, repeat each movement a number of times. Be lazy and only do as many repetitions as feel comfortable and easy. Rest whenever you start to feel fatigued. You can do the movements with your eyes open or closed. Try doing some of the movements first with your eyes closed and then with them open and observe if the quality or the range of the movement changes.
2. Lie down on your back with your legs stretched out and your arms alongside your body with your palms facing the floor. Scan the way you are laying against the floor. Pay particular attention to the arms, and the shoulders. Are the arms lying symmetrically or is one arm touching the floor differently from the other? Which shoulder is closer to its corresponding ear? Roll your head gently from side to side a few times and observe if your head rolls further to the right or the left.
3. Draw your legs up so that your knees are pointing to the ceiling and your feet are flat on the floor about hip width apart. Bring your arms up towards the ceiling and then bend your arms and get hold of your elbows with your hands. Notice which hand is on top. Slowly start tilting your arms left and right keeping your hands on your elbows. Gently turn your head in the same direction as arms are tilting. Make sure that you are very gentle with your neck. Start with a small movement and gradually increase the size of the movement, staying within a range that is comfortable and easy for you. Notice if the left shoulder lifts off the floor a bit as you tilt the arms to the right and the right lifts as you tilt the arms to the left. Then slowly bring your arms back down to your sides, straighten your legs and have a rest.
4. Bend your knees again and put the feet standing. Bring your arms up towards the ceiling and get hold of your elbows again. This time put the other hand on top and notice how that feels. Continue tilting your arms left and right and notice what effect crossing your arms the other way has on the movement. Notice what happens to the side of your ribs as you tilt away from them. Try deliberately lifting the shoulder off the floor as you tilt the arms away from it. Also try starting the movement with your head and following with the arms. Does this make it easier or allow a larger range of movement? Extend your arms and legs and rest again. Notice if your shoulders are touching more of the floor now.
5. With knees bent, get hold of your elbows again. This time keep your head still while you tilt your arms left and right. Make sure you stay within an easy, comfortable range of movement. What effect does immobilizing the head and neck have on the range and quality of the movement? Take a brief rest and then try turning your head in the opposite direction from your arms. Try to make the movement of the arms continuous and smooth rather than letting the arms flop to the sides. Do it with both crossings of the arms. After a comfortable number of repetitions, stretch out and have a good rest.
6. Try the original movement again, turning your head in the same direction that your are tilting your arms. Has the range and quality of the movement improved? Stop doing that and start bringing your arms alternately down towards your stomach and up in the direction of being over your head. Again, start with small movements and go only as far as you can do without stretching or straining. Notice what happens to the small of your back as you do this movement. Does it round as you bring your arms down towards your belly and arch as you bring them overhead? If your lower back is not moving try doing these movements. If your lower back is already moving, exaggerate the movement slightly. After a few more repetitions, straighten your legs, extend your arms along your sides and rest. Try rolling your head left and right again and feel any differences compared to the beginning of the lesson.
7. With knees bent, get hold of your elbows in the opposite way to step 6 and continue bring your arms down towards your chest and up over your head. Does holding your elbows differently affect the movement? This time, notice what happens at the back of your neck. Does the arch at the back of your neck increase as you bring your arms down towards your chest and decrease as you bring the arms overhead? Exaggerate the movement of your neck a little and notice how that changes the movement.
8. After another rest, bend your knees and reach your arms up towards the ceiling. Interlace your fingers and imagine that your elbow joints have disappeared. Start tilting both arms to the left, keeping both arms straight (since you don't have any elbows) and allow the left wrist to bend further to the left to allow the arms to go a little further. Bring the arms back to pointing at the ceiling and then tilt them to the left again. Go back and forth like this, turning your head to the left along with the arms. Rest briefly and then try the same thing to the right. Which side is easier?
13. After another rest, bring your legs to standing and reach your arms up towards the ceiling again. This time, place the two palms touching each other. Without bending your elbows, start tilting your arms left and right, turning your head gently in the same direction as the arms are tilting. Try to keep the pelvis and the legs fairly still so that the movement is done mainly with the shoulders and the upper body. Repeat this movement a few times and focus on reducing the effort involved with each repetition.
14. After a brief rest, continue tilting the arms left and right with the palms together. Do it very gently a few times without turning your head and then a few times turning your head in the opposite direction from the arms. Rest again and then go back to turning the head and the arms in the same direction. Gradually invite more of the body to participate in the movement. You can start rolling the pelvis a little left and right and tilting the knees from side to side. Finally, stretch out on your back again and observe how your shoulders and upper back are connecting to the floor now.
15. Bend your knees and put your feet standing. Raise both arms toward the ceiling. Let your wrists bend with the hands hanging limply. Bring your hands closer to the ceiling by lifting your shoulders a little off the floor and then let the arms back down. After a few repetitions, lift the shoulders and then let them drop back to the floor. If it's comfortable gradually do this faster so that you are rapping the floor with your shoulders. Rest a bit and then try alternating the arms so that one shoulder comes up as the other goes down. Notice if your head tends to turn. Does it turn toward the arm going up or the arm going down? Try it both ways. Rest again and then try rapping both shoulders at the same time again. Has it become any easier? Then take a longer rest. Try rolling your head easily from side to side and notice if you can turn your head further than before or if the turning is smoother.
16. With knees bent, get hold of your right shoulder with your left hand. Start bringing your left elbow up towards the ceiling and back towards your chest. Allow the left hand to bend at the wrist. Then bring your left arm down to your side and get hold of your left shoulder with your right hand. Lift your right elbow up and down. Which arm lifts more easily? Bring your left hand back to your right shoulder and try lifting both elbows toward the ceiling at the same time. Feel what happens to the sides of your ribs. Switch over the arms so that the right arm is on top and continue the movement. Then bring your arms down to your sides and rest.
17. Bring your feet back to standing. Lift your left arm up towards the ceiling and then continue so that the left arm is moving towards lying on the floor above your head. When you have gone as far as you can go easily, Bring the arm up towards the ceiling again and down to your side. As the left arm is going down bring the right arm up and overhead. Continue alternately raising and lowering the arms. Notice what happens in the small of your back. Rest a while and then try lifting both arms up toward the ceiling and then toward lying on the floor above your head. Don't stretch or strain, just do what is simple and easy. How does this compare to when you were bring your arms overhead while holding your elbows? Stretch out again and have a good rest.
18. Bend your knees and put your feet standing. Bring your arms up toward the ceiling and let your wrists go limp and the hands dangle. Start making small circles with the each arm in the same direction. Gradually increase the size of the circles, focusing on making the circles as round and smooth as possible. Then try making circles in the opposite direction. After a brief rest, try making circles with the left arm only. Invite the rest of your body to participate in the movement. Put the left arm down and make circles with your right arm. Which arm makes rounder circles?
19. After a rest, bring your arms over your chest and get hold of your elbows as you did in the beginning. Tilt your arms left and right again, turning your head in the same direction as your arms. Has this movement become lighter or larger or easier? Still holding your elbows, try bringing your arms down toward your belly and up toward lying on the floor above your head and notice how this movement has changed. Change over the holding of your elbows and start making circles with your arms, first in a clockwise direction and then in a counter-clockwise direction. Notice what happens to your neck and head and what happens at the small of your back. Stop and rest.
20. Raise your arms toward the ceiling and interlace your fingers. Start tilting your arms left and right. Allow the left wrist to bend as you go to the left and the right to bend as you go to the right. How has this movement changed?
21. Stretch out and observe how you are contacting the floor now. Is more of your back touching? Are the shoulders flatter against the floor? Roll your neck from side to side gently and notice if there has been any change in the range or quality of this movement.
22. Slowly roll to your side and come to sitting. From there, slowly stand up and observe how you are standing. Has your posture changed? What do your shoulders feel like now? How wide is the front of your chest? Where is your head now in relationship to your shoulders?
As you did at the beginning, bring your right arm up towards the ceiling and notice if the effort required has changed. Try the same with the left arm. Do the arms feel lighter? Then bring both arms out to the sides at shoulder height. Is it easier to keep the arms up? Finally, bring your arms back down to your sides and make circles with your shoulders in both directions and notice if the movements are different now.