Oh yogi—why take the time to do shoulder strengtheners?
On a purely physical level, strong healthy shoulders allow us to execute many fun asanas without injury to the shoulder structures that support them—poses like handstand, pincha mayurasana and chaturanga dandasana. Men, because of their strong shoulder muscles, often excel at these poses…once they build up the flexibility that is also required.
But women sometimes need to focus less on flexibility and more on stability in the shoulder complex. Therefore we recommend these for you if you are uber-flexible and need to build some stability in this joint complex or are already experiencing shoulder pain or injury.
On a psychoemotional level, strong shoulders give us a feeling of strength to carry our burdens with dignity and grace. Awesome posture comes from shoulders that are stately and hang nicely from the clavicles. Hunched, rounded shoulders reflect the tendency of the mind to succumb to the pressures of life.
Just as we can change our outer world by changing our inner one, we can affect our inner experience by changing our physiology—strong shoulders help us feel a sense of inner strength and fortitude.
- As always, consistency is key. Add this routine two times a week to your schedule and you’ll notice a positive change in a couple of weeks.
- Choose a band or weight that works for your current strength level. It doesn’t take much resistance or weight to feel the effects of these very specific movements.
- Perform each movement 12 reps, exhaling on the effort and inhaling a bit slower on the recovery phase.
- Use a soft ujjayi breath to help pace your breathing.
- It’s best to do all of the exercises, skipping none.
- Avoid shrugging your shoulders and notice the orientation of the hand and arm…it’s important to follow the directions and images to get the best results.
Palm faces forward by hip and remains in that orientation through range of motion, from low to high. Slight bend in the elbow. Can be done with light weight or elastic band.
Photos: Shown are the start position and the end position of each exercise. Perform each movement 12 reps, exhaling on the exertion and inhaling a bit slower on the recovery phase.
Palm faces away from body with thumb down. Bring arm up and forward about 30 degrees from side. Do not lock elbow. Thumb stays pointing down as arm raises.
Perform either while lying on side using a light weight or standing using a cable system or elastic tube. Range of motion is the same in either orientation. Keep the elbow bent at a 90° angle and upper arm held close to side. Begin with arm across the torso and rotate it out to side (or up towards ceiling, if lying on side).
Either lying on side or standing using a light weight and using a cable system or elastic tube. Range of motion is the same in either orientation. Keep the elbow bent at a 90° angle and upper arm held close to side. Begin with arm out to side and draw it across the torso (or up towards ceiling, if lying on side).
Using a light weight, cable or elastic tube, raise the arms out to the sides of the body. Elbow is slightly bent and palm will face towards the floor as arms rise.
Using cable or elastic tube, begin with arm across the body at shoulder level, parallel to floor. Pull arm across body through a pain-free range of motion. Keep shoulders steady.
Using cable or elastic tube, begin with arm out to the side at shoulder level, parallel to floor. Pull arm across body through a pain-free range of motion. Keep shoulders steady.
Grasp tubing with arm above shoulder and across body. Pull downward and away from your body. Return slowly to starting position.
Grasp tubing with arm above shoulder and behind you. Pull downward and across body. Return slowly to starting position.
Using tubing, start with arm out to side, palm down. Raise arm up, out and across body, rotating arm as you move so thumb continues to point back.
Using tubing, start with palm facing behind you. Pull arm out, up and across body, rotating arm as you move so palm faces forward at the top.
Let us know how these worked for you and whether you’re seeing results!
What you can do next
- We’d love some feedback…have you ever had a shoulder injury that kept you from doing a pose?
- Grab your free pdf of this post’s resources by clicking the button below (be sure to bookmark the page where you land so that you can access future goodies).