This practice concentrates on hollowing the armpits like a dome to free the upper back of tension and stiffness. Also, this movement strengthens the arms and brings a healthier movement in the shoulder joint.
In this 1 hour, 40-minute audio class, instructor Matt Harris clearly incorporates his Anusara yoga training (Harris was originally designated as an “Anusara Inspired” teacher but eventually chose to teach his own style of yoga). Throughout this practice, he repeatedly emphasizes common Anusara concepts such as melting the heart, rotating the upper arms, and side body long. Harris has the group begin seated in either vajrasana or virasana, where he immediately works to set up proper posture; he pauses here briefly.From seated, Harris brings the students to hands and knees, where he leads them through a series of shoulder protractions/retractions, cat/cow stretches, and knee-to-chest stretches. Cuing the first down dog of the day, Harris then moves the class through both a low (kneeling lunge) and high lunge. Following this, it’s back to standing for chair pose and standing forward bend before transitioning through chaturanga for several locust variations. Another down dog precedes the first standing series, which includes warrior 2 and extended side angle. Again, Harris brings the class through his own vinyasa transition, this one including baby cobra, cobra, down dog with hands out, and modified side plank. The next standing series begins with what Harris calls warrior “1 ½” and then moves into triangle. At approximately 52 minutes into the practice, Harris announces that he is going to teach Part 2 of the class at the wall, so he instructs his students to bring their mats, a blanket, and a looped belt over to a wall. The work here begins with an arm/shoulder stretch at the wall which moves into leg lifts (urdhva prasarita padasana). The series then transitions to hands and knees for “Box Pose #1,” a prelude to half-handstand at the wall. This is followed by full handstand at the wall (or a repetition of box, if desired) and a rest in child’s pose. Now, Harris has the group repeat the initial arm/shoulder stretch in this series, but this time, adding a blanket roll under the shoulders and a pelvic lift. He then instructs his students to move the blanket roll under the head, placing the hands on the roll as well while turning out the fingers—he uses this position to facilitate moving from bridge into upward bow. Bow pose is repeated several times (for four total), with slight variations to Harris’s instruction for each repetition.To begin the closing sequence, Harris has his students lie on their backs, knees bent, a blanket under their heads, grasping their belts with both hands for a passive reclining big toe pose. This is followed by a crossed leg twist, and finally, Harris sets up the class for a nice guided savasana (approximately 6 minutes) before concluding the practice in a seated position with namaste.Doming the Armpits offers a strong backbending practice with a distinct Anusara feel. It is a step up from Harris’s Building the Bridge class, and it would be most appropriate for intermediate and above students.