Shoulder Shout Out!

How are your shoulders feeling lately? 

If they’re not feeling too hot maybe it’s time to pause your push-up and put your plank-asana in check. Often times in one yoga class (especially in vinyasa) we can find ourselves flowing through A LOT of weight bearing postures on our upper body such as push-ups, cobra’s and downward facing dogs. This puts a whole lot of pressure on our shoulders and if we’re not positioning correctly, “the tendons attaching the biceps to the fronts of the arm bones can be strained and may begin to tear.” (Doug Keller) “The tendon of the supraspinatus muscle can get sandwiched between the bones of the shoulder blade and the arm” and create what is called a rotator cuff injury. Ouch! That doesn’t sound fun. As yoga instructors we try our best to keep an eye out for incorrect posturing and to create a well-balanced practice, but no one knows your body like you do. Slow down and take a moment to evaluate your shoulder positioning in the following asanas…

In plank…
Your shoulders should stack directly over your wrists. Your heart drops forward as your collar bones pull away from your sternum. Shoulders pull back and broaden away from the spine.

YES!!! GOOD PLANK

NO!!! BAD PLANK

Chaturanga Dandasana (half way down)…

Cobra…
Hands should be pressing into the mat, fingers facing forward and elbows hugging into the back body. Shoulders pull down the back and away from the ears. The chest lifts as you pull your heart forward.

YES!!! GOOD COBRA

NO!!! BAD COBRA

Downward Facing Dog…
Hands on the mat, shoulder’s width apart, fingers spread wide. Press down evenly through both hands. Firm through the outer arms and lengthen the inner arms from wrist to shoulder. Rotate the upper arms outward and broaden the collar bones. Shoulders pull away from your ears towards your tailbone. 

YES!!! GOOD DOWNDOG

NO!!! BAD DOWNDOG

Although these are only a few of the weight bearing postures we experience with our upper bodies during our yoga practice, it’s a good place to stop and check in. If you’re feeling a little achy don’t be afraid to skip a vinyasa or side plank. Yoga is about connection and not exertion. We can connect without force, without struggle or pain. 

For more information about shoulder pain and yoga…

https://yogainternational.com/article/view/how-to-avoid-shoulder-injuries-in-chaturanga-and-plank

http://sequencewiz.org/2014/04/09/shoulder-problems-yoga/