Making art is rewarding, but it can also take a toll on your body.
Artists spend hours standing in front of an easel or hunched over a drawing pad. Every day these repetitive movements cause neck, shoulder and back strain.
You don’t want to have to call it quits for the day because of aches and pains, do you? Nor do you want to spend hundreds of dollars on massages.
We have a simple, free solution for you—yoga.
For centuries, yoga has provided physical benefits to a hard-worked body. Artists can benefit from yoga’s healing practice with poses that perfect posture, strengthen muscles, release tension, increase blood flow and energy, and promote focus.
Additionally, yoga can be a great break. Jump out of your chair and out of your routine, and take a few minutes for these simple poses to help align your body and your mind.
You can do this pose either standing or seated. Drop your right ear towards your right shoulder. Extend your left arm out to your side. Feel the stretch in the left side of your neck. With each exhale, sink your ear closer to your shoulder, and drop your shoulder away, like they are playing tag.
Hold the pose for 8-10 breaths. Switch sides and repeat.
Release tension in the neck
Stretch muscles safely
Modifications: To intensify the stretch, push your chin away from your chest, or place your right had on your head when your right ear reaches for your shoulder
Hand to elbow
Begin this pose by sitting or standing comfortably with a straight spine.
Reach the right arm up, bend the elbow, and drop your right hand between the shoulder blades. Place your left hand on the right elbow and press gently to intensify the stretch.
Hold the pose for 8-10 breaths. Switch sides and repeat.
Benefits: Stretches the front of the shoulders, triceps, and the back of the neck.
Stand next to a wall with your feet parallel and comfortably separated.
Place the fingertips of one hand on the wall at shoulder height with your arm fully extended. Place your other hand on your hip.
Rotate your arm outward slightly so that your thumb (rather than your index finger) points upward. Keep your shoulder aligned with your hand and begin to lift and open your chest with your breath, rolling your collarbones back.
Hold for 8-10 breaths, then switch sides and repeat.
Relieve tightness in arms, shoulders, and chest
Modifications: To lessen the sensation, cactus the arm on the wall, bending from the elbow. To intensify the stretch, turn your hips away from the wall.
Eagle Arms (Garudasana)
Stand or sit comfortably with your spine straight and your neck comfortably elongated. Reach out both arms so they’re at shoulder width and height. Bend the right arm up towards the head and sweep the left arm under the right. Bend and wrap the left arm around the right one. The eventual goal is to have the palms touch.
Breathe deeply. Lower your shoulders away from your ears, gently pull the hands away from the face.
Hold the pose for at least five breaths and work up to 10 breaths. Switch sides and repeat.
Stretch muscles in your arms, shoulders, upper back, and neck.
Open shoulder joints, creating space between the shoulder blades.
Increased circulation in joints.
Modifications: If your palms don’t touch, don’t worry about it! Grasp the wrist of the bent arm with your other hand.
Hanging forward fold (Uttanasana)
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. On an exhale, bend forward, bring your chest toward your thighs, tuck your chin, and let your arms dangle.
With each inhalation in the pose, lift and lengthen your torso just slightly; with each exhalation release a little more fully into the forward bend. Let your head hang.
If your hamstrings are limiting the stretch, bend your knees generously.
Stay in the pose for 30 seconds - 1 minute.
Releases lower back
Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
Stretches the hamstrings, calves, and hips
Strengthens the thighs and knees
Reduces fatigue and anxiety
Relieves headaches and insomnia
Modifications: There are so many modifications you can take with your arms to further the opening in your back and chest.
Hold opposite elbows for Ragdoll.
Clasp hands behind your back. With bent elbows lift the arms away from the back to open the front of the chest.
Interlace fingers and clasp hands behind your neck. Draw your elbows towards the floor.
Begin in a tabletop position. Your wrists should be aligned with your shoulders and knees aligned with your hips. With each inhale, let your belly sink toward the floor, lift your chest and gaze towards the ceiling—this is the cow part. With each exhale, tuck your chin into your chest, pull your tailbone under, round your back and shoulders, push the earth away from you—this is the cat part.
Switch between the two poses for 8-10 breaths.
Stretches the neck, chest, shoulders, spinal column, and lower back
Thread the needle
Begin in a tabletop position. Walk the left hand forward as far as you can and thread the right arm under it. Rest your right shoulder and your right cheek on the ground. Close your eyes and relax into the pose.
Hold this pose for 8-10 breaths. Switch sides and repeat.
Gently stretches the shoulders, arms, upper back, and neck.
Modifications: Walk your “free” hand away from you to lengthen your side body, or place it on the small of your back to open the shoulder.
Reclined Spinal Twist
This pose is done on your back, but you can also twist from a seated position, or even standing.
Twists are great for releasing tension in your back.
Begin lying comfortably on the back. Bend your knees into your chest and extend your arms out alongside the body in a “T” formation, with your palms facing up toward the ceiling. Inhale here. As you exhale, drop both of your bent knees over to the right, and send your gaze over to the left.
Remain in the twist for 5-10 breaths, then inhale to come back up to center. On your next exhale, drop your knees to the left, and send your gaze to the right.
Lengthens and encourages mobility along your spine.
Stretches the hips, chest, shoulders and upper back.
Relieves stress and anxiety.
Modifications: There are many. You can place your bottom foot on your top knee to deepen the stretch. You can take eagle-wrapped legs if you have the mobility. Your arms can be stretched out long, or you can bend at the elbows to “cactus your arms.”
Camel Pose not only opens your chest, but it also boosts your energy. This pose is a bit more complicated than the others and recommended for those that have attended a yoga class before. For beginners, it is best to do this pose against the wall for support and guidance.
Kneel on the floor with your knees hip-width and thighs perpendicular to the floor. Press your shins and the tops of your feet firmly into the floor.
Rest your hands on the back of your pelvis with the bases of the palms on the tops of the buttocks, fingers pointing down, as if you are placing your hands in jean back pockets.
Inhale and lift your heart by pressing the shoulder blades against your back ribs. Now lean back into your shoulder blades. Keep your head up, chin near the sternum, and your hands on the pelvis.
Keep your thighs perpendicular to the ground. This is where the wall can help. You can place your thighs against the wall to make sure you stay upright and do not lean at an angle.
Try to stay in the pose for at least 5 breaths. If you are lightheaded when you sit up, come to a comfortable seat and close your eyes.
Strengthens spine, arms, and wrists.
Stretches chest, lungs, shoulders, and abdomen.
Helps relieve mild depression and fatigue.
Legs-up-the-wall (Viparita Karani)
A crowd-favorite because all you have to do is lie on the ground with your legs propped on the wall. This pose is also great for getting an energy boost. Skip that extra cup of coffee!
Lie on the floor with your legs lifted and resting on the wall. You’ll make an “L” with your body. Make sure to have your tailbone hitting the wall. If this is too much on your lower back, place a blanket under your hips.
Breathe and relax for at least 60 seconds.
Relieves lower back pain.