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Yoga Poses for Volleyball

Shoulder Opener Series

These shoulder stretches are the first step to getting the most power and range of motion for serving, setting, and spiking. Repeat this series three times. For the first shoulder opener, stand with your hands interlaced overhead, palms up, and elbows bent. Take a deep breath in, so deep that it feels as though you’re overinflating your lungs. As you exhale, keep the head of the arm bones back and push your shoulder blades powerfully onto your upper back, opening the chest. As you continue your exhalation, extend the interlaced hands skyward, holding the shoulder blades strong on the back. Hold for 5 breaths.

From there, interlace your hands behind your back, straighten your arms, and repeat the same actions: Keep the head of the arm bones back and the shoulder blades strong on the back while you take 5 deep breaths.

Next, come to a wall and place your right forearm on it, elbow at shoulder height, fingertips facing the ceiling, and palm open. Using the same three actions—deep breath, head of the arm bones back, and shoulder blades strong on the back—stretch the muscles at the front of the right shoulder and upper chest by slowly turning the torso away from the wall. Hold for 5 breaths and repeat on the other side.

L-Pose at the Wall

This strengthening pose builds on the work done by the shoulder openers. Place your hands on a table or against a wall at belly height. Then step back and bend at the hips to form a 90-degree angle (or a rotated L). Keep your arms and legs straight and check to see that your feet are pointing forward and your index fingers point straight up. Take a deep breath in, lifting your armpits and upper arm bones. Keeping the arms straight, move the torso closer to the wall, so that the arm bones move back into the shoulder sockets. Press your shoulder blades into your back, and stretch. Hold for at least 1 minute.

Jathara Parivartanasana (Revolved Abdomen Pose), variation

Lie on your back with your arms out to the sides, elbows bent at a 90-degree angle and backs of the hands on the ground. Bend the knees right above the hips with your feet lifting off the floor. Take a deep breath, draw the top of the shoulders back (into the ground in this case), and press your shoulder blades strongly against your back. Next, take your knees to the right, bringing them about halfway toward the ground for the duration of 1 complete breath. The farther you move your knees down to the right, the more difficult it will be to keep your left shoulder pressed on the ground, so go only as far as you can while maintaining that alignment. Rotate the knees up to center on an inhalation and over to the other side on the exhalation. Moving with the breath, twist back and forth with the knees, 6 times per side, feeling both the upper body and the abdominals work.

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