The Natural Method’s mobility and warm-up process starts with a very accessible and simple concept, which, if held statically/isometrically, can create a nice burn in your upper body musculature. It is meant to address the shoulder joint in all its angles, open up the chest, properly position the shoulders (a concept that already 100 years ago was becoming an issue from the rounded sedentary lifestyle posture).
These seven positions of the arms (derived from what Hébert calls the “Upright Posture”, with arms at your side, straight, locked, shoulders retracted and fists tight) are, quite simply named:
1) Hands at hips.
2) Hands at shoulders.
3) Hands at chest.
4) Hands out, palms up.
5) Hands behind the head.
6) One arm up, one arm down (one shoulder flexed, one extended).
7) Both arms up.
All are featured in the below picture, the far left being the Upright Posture/Stance, with when done properly, allows one to have the back of their head, upper back, buttocks and heels touching a wall in perfect alignment, or if facing a wall, the toes and chest should touch the wall as well without a feeling of falling backwards.
These seven positions constitute the basics from which everything else stems, mainly leg work which includes deep knee bends, lunges, forward and backward slits/leans, hip extensions, balance work on one leg etc. Below are a few examples, which I invite you to try on for size 🙂
DEEP KNEE BEND WITH ARMS OUT: quadriceps at full ROM (Range Of Motion), arms out, palms up for anterior upper stretch of musculature.
FORWARD SLIT WITH 1 ARM UP, 1 ARM DOWN: shoulder flexion on the same side as the back leg for maximal distal ipsilateral stretch from fist to toes of lat and hips (meaning, same side, longest distance between the 2 points made up by the hand and foot), while engaging spinal musculature and maintaining alignment.
BACKWARDS SLIT WITH SHOULDER FLEXION/EXTENSION: adding a back extension to combat daily stress of overuse pattern of lumbar flexion. The bent leg is the one where the hip gets maximal stretch.
TRUNK SIDE FLEXION WITH ARMS BEHIND HEAD: Upper body stretch of the chest and shoulders, surprisingly challenging for persons with tight, protracted shoulders. Neck needs to be contracted and pushing back against the hands to preserve alignment and create reciprocal inhibition (engage the back muscles, stretch the front).Oblique flexion on side side, extension on the other. A twist can be added for even more thoracic spine stretch.