Dynamic asana yoga, or vinyasa, is probably the most popular of yoga style today, and as vinyasa is both weight-bearing and repetitive the importance of shoulder strength and stability is crucial to your practice.
The shoulder is the body’s most mobile joint, making it less stable and more vulnerable to injury. From foundational postures in vinyasa like downward dog, plank, and chaturanga, to more intermediate postures like crow pose or handstand, the shoulder joint ends up supporting a tonne of weight. Therefore, it is imperative to build shoulder strength and stability to keep them protected.
Ultimately, learning how to activate the smaller muscles that make up the shoulder girdle is key in supporting this important yet sensitive joint.
How to Activate your Shoulder Muscles (in 4 Steps)
Here are 4 simple actions you can do to activate the rotator cuff, serratus anterior, and rhomboids for shoulder strength and stability. Together, they create optimal shoulder stability for weight-bearing poses. Plus, you can practice these sitting or standing up!
- With your arms in front of you, hug the head of the arm bones into the shoulder sockets and in towards each other. This will engage the front of the rotator cuff, and can be felt in the armpit.
- Continue to hug the head of the arm bones into the shoulder sockets, while pressing forward through the hands. This engages the serratus anterior, the teeth-like muscles that line the ribs and help protract the shoulder blades.
- Maintaining the first two actions, isometrically squeeze the hands together activating the front of the shoulder.
- With actions 1, 2, & 3 engaged, think of broadening the collarbones helping to engage the back of the shoulder.
The initial work might be challenging, particularly in getting a balance of all muscles to work equally. However, over time and with effort, greater ease will come to these actions and become a natural part of your practice.
Remember: Although it can be challenging, stabilising your shoulders is imperative to keeping ourselves injury-free as our yoga practice progresses, resulting in a longer, sustainable practice!
WORKSHOPS WITH BRUCE CHUNG!
Join Bruce Chung streaming LIVE from our Helsinki studio on Sunday 14 May. Cant’ make the live class? All live classes are recorded so Yogaia Members can join the workshop anytime, anywhere. Not a member?
Stabilisation Workshop I @ 11:00am GMT
Prepare your shoulders to fly! This is Part 1 in a 2-part workshop that teaches you the importance of stabilising your shoulders in a vinyasa practice.
Prepare Your Shoulders to Fly: Flow II @ 11:50pm GMT
In Part 2 of this workshop, Bruce will teach you how to apply these techniques in a vinyasa-led practice, working towards forearm stand (Pincha Mayurasana).
Find Balance Through Restorative Yoga @ 12:30pm GMT
Restorative Yoga is a practice that cultivates patience, encourages stillness, and creates internal balance. It is a simple practice that allows the physical body to rest – like pressing your very own reset button.
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