Free Your Hips and Shoulders

Posted on March 5, 2024

With Michelle Ricaille


Can you picture that iconic image of an ape walking steadily more upright until he transforms into a human being? Now picture the opposite. Yes, it is happening – our sedentary, computer- and device-ridden lifestyles are steadily turning us, if not into hunchbacks, into generations for whom upper and lower back issues, creaky necks and stiff shoulders are the norm. The solution? Michelle Ricaille’s Blissful Hips and Happy Shoulders workshop promises to open and release tight hips and shoulders, teach you takeaway exercises and help relieve pain.

Why are we so scrunched over these days?
People are living their lives sitting on a chair at a computer, it’s our lifestyle now. We don’t go out hunting and gathering, we sit in a slumped position, hunched over our work, often for more than four hours a day.

What effect does this have on our muscles?
It tightens the front of the hips and brings the shoulders forwards, and eventually we start to develop the beginnings of a hunchback. I’ve been teaching yoga for 15 years and I’ve seen issues with people’s backs getting worse every year, and not just with older people. It is getting steadily worse in teens and those in their 20s, who have grown up with computers and therefore develop increasingly hunched spines. It shouldn’t be normal for teenagers to complain of back problems, but these days it is.

How can your workshop help?
The class starts with preparatory movements designed to loosen up the muscles and open the shoulder joints, getting them lubricated and flexible. Continuous movements that take less than two minutes, if people did just these exercises every day it would really help them.

For the hips I’ll talk about the structure of the hip, give a little anatomy on the main tight areas and muscles, then I’ll teach some exercises focusing on how to stretch these particular muscles.

Both of these preparatory exercises you can do at home every day. Together they will all take less than ten minutes but will make a world of difference to how you feel.

And will yoga be part of the class?
There are two main asanas I’ll teach too, Dancer Pose (Natrajasana) like in the image above, and King Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakopatasana). Although they are quite advanced, with a strap or a towel even the tightest person can do these – you might be surprised what you can achieve! And if it is important to you to be able to achieve them without a prop then I can teach you the stages and how to practice them at home.

How will people feel at the end of the workshop?
By the end of the class you’ll feel really good. Your whole body feels open and released, your spine taller, straighter, stronger. There will certainly be a physical release for everyone, but many people experience an emotional release too.

The beneficial effects can last for a couple of days, it is a little like a good deep tissue massage. That’s as long as you don’t go immediately back to sitting at your computer or rushing out to go running or cycling, which will all tighten everything up again.

Who is the workshop good for in particular?
The workshop is good for anyone, as you’ll just feel so much better at the end of it. When you’re doing yoga asanas in any form you are increasing blood flow to the muscles and organs. You’re giving yourself deep tissue massage work, and like a massage you feel so good afterwards.

Anyone with upper back, neck or shoulder pain, and lower back pain, will benefit from this class. These are the two most common complaints people have, but if you can do these exercises every day, or even every other day, then if they don’t fix your pain they can certainly help.

The workshop will leave you feeling good and energised. I want you to feel as if you have achieved something. You will also be able to take away new skills to practice regularly at home for the absolute best and long-lasting results.

Michelle Ricaille will be leading her Blissful Hips Happy Shoulders Workshop on Thursday 3 December from 12.45pm to 2.15pm at Island South.
Read more about the workshop here.

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