The puppy pose in this picture here is quite different to the one commonly practiced. I personally prefer this to the back-bending, heart-to-floor, neck-crunching version, but, hey, that's just me! If you, like me, hate compressing the back of you neck, try this version. Puppy pose helps to release tension from your shoulders, and because, we are not allowing the lower back to sink here, you get to tone your core at the same time!
PUPPY POSE STEP-BY-STEP
Come down to your hands and knees. Your knees should be directly under the hips and your hands should be shoulder-width apart. Spread your fingers. Keep the creases of your wrists aligned with the front edge of the mat (or coffee table!).
Draw up the pelvic floor and the lower belly as you curl your tailbone under.
Walk your hands forward as far as you can without moving your hips in front of your knees (keep hips and knees in alignment at all times), and lower the forearms onto the mat. Your shoulders should be behind the elbows. Try to keep your hands and arms at shoulder-width distance.
Lower your head between your arms so that your ears are in line with your upper arms. Exhale and melt your heart back towards your thighs, not to the floor.
Continue to keep the pelvic floor and the lower belly drawing in and up. Externally rotate your upper arms (think turning the bit of your upper arm nearest to your arm pit so that the crease of your elbow turns forward) and turn your forearms in (which will bring the creases of the elbow back in a bit. These 2 opposing actions will help to spread the shoulder blades apart and free your shoulders.
Take full, slow breaths in and out and stay for as long as you like without losing your core connection (without the lower back sinking).