Posts Tagged 'shoulders'

hanging out with the shoulder, part ii

The other day I checked in with the group in the shoulder series and asked how their shoulders were feeling. One student answered, They feel powerful!

What a great way to feel. Powerful.

Let’s consider the other options. Do these with me:

  • Completely slump — let the shoulders round forward and hang the head. How does this feel? To me it feels sad. Like I can’t take it anymore. There’s no hope. And after a minute or so I get really really tired.
  • Now pull your shoulders back and pop your chest out (just don’t let my anatomy friend see you). How does this feel? This one is tricky for me. It camouflages itself as powerful pretty well, but if I really tune in and listen, I can feel how it’s a false sense of power. It’s more like force or bullying, with undertones of desperation and insecurity.

These are two extremes, and perhaps I’m dramatizing the feelings behind them, but we communicate with our bodies. We send messages about who we are in the world by the way we carry ourselves. So now…

  • Find the center point between those two. Imagine you’re rising equally from your front and back torso, growing tall from the inside right out the top of your head. Let your shoulders widen, as though you’re effortlessly pressing your outer arms into an imaginary hug. Let your eyes find a point straight forward from eye level. I feel present, like I’m greeting the world from an embodied and alive place.

Do you feel the difference?

How do your shoulders feel right now?

Is your load too heavy? Are your shoulders tired? You may need to delegate and take a nap; you could also try changing your posture and see if it changes your feeling. ‘Cause it works both ways.

Isn’t this body amazing?!

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Did you download your free class on the hips? Let me know what you think!

 

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hanging out with the shoulder, part i

The four-week shoulder series at the studio is so much fun (and I feel just terrible for those of you who can’t be there), I thought I’d post highlights throughout the next three weeks on what we’re covering.

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Last week, in preparation for the series, I called an anatomy-geek friend to ask her what thing she would most definitely cover if she was teaching this series.

Without hesitation, her impassioned response was:

I would tell people to stop pinching their shoulder blades together and sticking their front ribs out!

Ah yes, the overcompensation for the equally misaligned opposite, The Slouch.

Friends, we are going to talk about shoulder blade stabilization.

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Why is this important?

Any misalignment in the shoulder girdle (your two collarbones and two scapulae) affects and is affected by the posture of the pelvis, spine and head. The entire system called shoulder is a tricky riddle. Like in Jenga, you can’t move one thing without changing the whole system.

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Where are the shoulder blades supposed to be?

Flat on the back.

Not sloping out to the sides.
Not squeezing together.
Not winging at the inside edges.

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Why does this matter in yoga asana?

Take, for example, the position of my shoulder blades in Warrior II (the Squeeze and the Spread):

Now, it might not cause any great damage for you to do Warrior II with squeezed or misaligned shoulder blades, but consider that these are the same arms you’ll want for Vasisthasana, Side Plank (a super scapular stabilization strengthener (SSSS)). And you don’t want to bear weight on a misaligned joint. At best, you’d be reinforcing a less than ideal pattern; at worst, you’d compromise the joint and be more susceptible to injury.

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Here are two SSSSs to consider adding to your practice.

All 4s/plank on knees or feet
Yes, likely you do this often in your yoga practice, but are you getting the full benefit from the pose? Are you pressing the hands down through the floor, rebounding back up to fill out the space between the shoulder blades? If the answer is No (i.e. your back sinks between the shoulder blades), then you are not using your serratus muscle, a very important scapular stabilizer.

Scapular push ups
From the same position (all 4s or plank for more challenge), bring the thumb tips and index fingertips together making a diamond shape (hands turned in slightly) underneath your face (rather than under your shoulders). Keep the elbows straight and let the chest sink all the way down between the arms until the shoulder blades touch. Then ground into the hands and lift the chest back up between the blades. You might even exaggerate the lift so that you feel slightly rounded at the upper back. Repeat 10+ times.

In both poses, keep the head “on” — not looking forward, not letting the head hang. Grow your neck from the core of your body forward and out the crown. Maintain a low belly tone, as though you are lifting the spot halfway between your navel and your pubic bone away from the floor.

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Whew! I’m feeling that. Are you? It seems easy enough, but can be deceptively potent.

I think that’s the thing with the shoulders. They can be deceptive.

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By the by, you can purchase the audio version of all four classes (be the detective of this deceptive area!).

If you purchased (and liked) the hips series, you’ll definitely like the shoulders. Very practical, great for teachers, and between the two you would have quite a toolkit for a balanced, informed body.

Wow, come to think of it, we also offer a video class on the shoulders through It’s All Yoga.

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Enjoy!

A Gift

Oh, it’s been a day.

My master plan was to get up early, record my first for-sale yoga class video and drink mimosas in the hammock the rest of the day.

The morning did not go as planned. It was one of those mornings where everything that could go wrong did, and if you had any sense of humor it might actually be comical.

Except it wasn’t.

It’s 9:04 pm and the video is finally done downloading for the 5th time. Because of the insanity during recording this morning (the cat pawing at the door, the other cat crying outside, the dog whimpering through the window) and other technical difficulties with formatting and exporting, I am offering this class as a gift. To you.

So that you don’t have hackerback.

So that you are sure to take an hour for yourself today.

So that I can find my generous and joyful heart again.

Enjoy.

And if you have experience with videos and are willing to consult with me on a few IT details, please leave a comment.

Shoulder Moment II

Strong Shoulders


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