July 11, 2023
Picture your shoulders as the dynamic duo, the Batman and Robin of the upper body, keeping you stable in poses and ready to conquer any yoga challenge. Your shoulder joint is a bit like a wild disco party, where the humerus (that’s your upper arm bone) slides into the glenoid cavity (that’s the hippest spot in the shoulder blade). It’s a dance floor of mobility, allowing your arms to twist, reach, and groove to your heart’s content. But wait, there’s more! To keep this joint rockin’ and rollin’, you’ve got muscles like the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, and teres major, and subscapularis (aka the rotator cuff) working together like synchronized swimmers, supporting your moves and preventing you from turning into a human noodle during those challenging arm balances.
Now, let’s meet their trusty sidekick, the scapula, or as I like to call it, the “shoulder blade with an attitude.” This sneaky bone is your secret weapon for stability and strength in yoga poses. Think of it as your own personal yoga assistant, constantly adjusting and shimmying to keep your shoulders in check. The scapula glides and spins along your ribcage like a smooth operator, providing a solid foundation for your arm movements. And to make things even more exciting, it’s supported by an entourage of muscles like the trapezius, serratus anterior, and rhomboids, working together like a squad of burly bodyguards. They keep your scapula in position, preventing it from going rogue and causing wobbles during those challenging inversions.
So listen up, shoulder warriors! When it comes to maintaining healthy and happy shoulders in your yoga practice, it’s time to shift the focus from being Gumby-like flexible to embracing mobility like a funky disco dancer. You see, flexibility is like the colorful feather in a peacock’s cap, while mobility is the smooth groove that gets the party started. So, here’s the deal: incorporate a mix of gentle stretches, shoulder rolls, and dynamic movements into your practice. This helps to keep those shoulders supple and resilient, like a rubber band that can handle all the twisty, turny poses yoga throws your way.
It’s time to start embracing shoulder-opening postures like Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) or Garudasana (Eagle Pose); but don’t get fixated on turning your arms into animal balloons. Instead, focus on the journey of moving your shoulders through their full range of motion, finding that sweet spot where they feel free and alive. And hey, let’s not forget about our friends, the rotator cuff muscles. Give them some love with gentle strengthening exercises, like threading the needle or resistance band pulls. Remember, my shoulder superheroes, it’s all about finding that balance between strength and fluidity, dancing through your practice with mobility as your guide.
So, my yoga superheroes, next time you’re flowing through a sun salutation or soaring into a warrior pose, give your shoulders a little wink and a grateful high-five for being the unsung heroes of your yoga journey.
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A Las Vegas yoga teacher training for the curious, willing + adventurous. We're serious about yoga—not so serious about ourselves.