As a personal trainer, I’d encourage my clients to do self-myofascial release (SMFR). It’s a great way to release tight muscles, increase blood flow, and reduce injury. However, most people hear SMFR and think foam rolling. I’ve seen grown men cry rolling out tight IT bands. Well my friends there is a gentler way, the somatic way! Instead, try this 12-minute yoga for tight lats and IT bands.
Stop using effort and foam rollers, and activating the sympathetic nervous system. Instead, use the floor as your resistance, and roll yourself. This rolling and rocking motion is nice and gentle, easier to control, and requires less effort. Plus it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system for relaxation, allowing muscles to relax. Sounds like a win-win right? Try it!
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Yoga for tight lats & IT band
As with all somatic work it’s important to establish a baseline, for this corpse pose is ideal. This allows us to notice the side body unrestricted by gravity. Notice:
- Does one leg turn out more than the other?
- Do you feel one leg is longer? or heavier?
- Does one side waist feeling shorter or contracted?
- Do you have a sense that one arm feels longer?
- How does the right arm connect to the floor compared to the left?
For our warm-up and continued somatic work begin with an arch & flatten. After a few repetitions introduce some shoulder movement, reaching the right arm back behind you on the inhale and releasing back to the side on the exhale. Notice how the shoulder moves. Repeat this for about 10 repetitions.
Hold the right arm back behind you, and bend elbow so the forearm wraps around the top of the head. With the right arm overhead, add a half Windsheild Wiper. Only allowing the knees to fold to the right, then back to center.
If it feels comfortable continue the journey rolling the torso to the right. The head will be supported by the right arm. Then, roll back onto the back and the knees rise into center. Repeating this pattern, with as little effort as possible. Let the body roll and fall. Notice any tension on the side body as you roll.
Hold the roll on the side and gently rock back and forth about 4 inches. Notice any tender areas. You can and just roll over those spots. Or you can ignore them completely if it feels too tender. Release back into the center. Before you do the other side, come into the same baseline position to see if you feel any difference right to left. Repeat the yoga for tight lats on the left side, repeat the baseline and you’re done.
When to do somatic yoga
This type of somatic yoga is perfect before poses like revolved head-to-knee pose, Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana. It can also be used to release tension after poses like side plank, Vasisthasana. Alternatively, you can just use this class to relax and unwind, letting the parasympathetic nervous system do its thing. And just enjoy the rolling around on the floor for 12 minutes. Have fun!
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- Do you have tight lats? Or IT band?
- Can you feel a shortening on one side?
- Are you experiencing any tight muscles elsewhere?