Whether your lats are loose or tight, using props to align and stabilise your
arms will deepen your stretch more effectively. Here is a good way to do this.
Kneel on a folded blanket in front of a chair. Optionally, drape an unfolded
sticky mat over the chair seat. Hold a yoga block in front of you, one hand on
each short end. When you are in the pose, this block will keep your upper arms
fully rotated by holding your forearms apart, so choose a grip that keeps your
hands and wrists as far from each other as possible. Bend your elbows 90
degrees, and carefully place the backs of your elbows, near their tips, on the
front edge of the chair seat, about shoulder-width apart or slightly closer. If
you have trouble keeping your elbows on the seat, loop a strap around your
forearms very close to the joint. Adjust the backs of your elbow tips so they
rest as close as possible to the chair’s front edge without risk of sliding off
when you put weight on them.
Walk your knees away from the chair until your trunk is parallel to the floor
and your knees are directly under your hip joints. Draw your front lower rib
cage upward so it does not sag toward the floor, and keep it there throughout
the pose. Exhale and then, being careful to keep your elbows on the chair, move
your hips horizontally backward to lengthen your spine, slide your outer
shoulders toward your ears, and draw your head away from the edge of the chair
If there’s room, allow your head to hang down in the space between your trunk
and the chair. Exhale again and move your hips back more. Press your tailbone
slightly toward the floor to stabilise your sacrum, pelvis and lower back; keep
your ribs slightly lifted and move your outer arms (triceps) toward the floor as
far as you comfortably can.
If you experience discomfort in your shoulders, back out of the pose a little
by moving your shoulders up away from the floor; then, as you reenter the pose,
squeeze your elbow tips toward each other without actually sliding them closer
together. (If this doesn’t relieve your shoulders, back out of the pose and seek
help from a teacher.) When you have found a strong yet comfortable stretch,
relax your outer armpits, the sides of your trunk and the surface of your lower
back all the way to your sacrum to allow the latissimus muscles to fully
release, lengthen and permit deeper movement.