Shoulder mobility is an important aspect of overall physical health and well-being, but it’s something that many people struggle with. Poor shoulder mobility can lead to muscle imbalances, poor posture, and even injuries. Fortunately, yoga can be a great way to improve shoulder mobility and alleviate any discomfort or tension in the shoulders.
Why Shoulder Mobility is Important
Before we dive into the yoga poses, it’s important to understand what shoulder mobility is and why it’s important. The shoulders are made up of several joints, including the glenohumeral joint (the main ball-and-socket joint), the acromioclavicular joint (where the collarbone meets the shoulder blade), and the scapulothoracic joint (where the shoulder blade moves on the ribcage). Proper shoulder mobility involves the ability to move these joints through their full range of motion, allowing the arms to move freely in all directions.
Good shoulder mobility is important for everyday activities such as reaching, lifting, and carrying. It’s also essential for activities that require overhead movement, such as throwing a ball or lifting weights. Poor shoulder mobility can lead to muscle imbalances and compensatory movements, which can cause strain on other parts of the body and increase the risk of injury.
How yoga can improve shoulder mobility
So how can yoga help improve shoulder mobility? Yoga poses, or asanas, can help to stretch and strengthen the muscles around the shoulder joints, improving range of motion and flexibility. In addition to the physical benefits, yoga can also help to reduce stress and tension in the shoulders, which can contribute to poor mobility.
However, shoulder mobility is not just about the shoulders themselves. The entire upper body is connected, and issues with the shoulders can often be traced back to imbalances in the neck, upper back, or even the hips. This is why it’s important to approach shoulder mobility from a holistic perspective and consider the whole body in your practice.
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Here are five yoga poses that can help improve shoulder mobility
Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This classic pose stretches the entire back of the body, including the shoulders. To get into Downward Facing Dog, start on your hands and knees. Spread your fingers wide and tuck your toes under. Lift your hips up and back, forming an inverted V shape with your body. Keep your heels pressing towards the ground and your neck relaxed.
Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana)
This pose stretches the shoulders and upper back. To get into Cow Face arms, start in a seated position with your legs crossed. Raise your left arm up and bend your elbow, bringing your hand towards the middle of your back. Reach your right arm behind your back and try to grab your left hand. If you can’t reach, use a strap or towel to bridge the gap. Hold the pose for a few breaths and then switch sides.
Thread the Needle Pose (Parsva Balasana)
This pose stretches the shoulders and upper back. To get into Thread the Needle Pose, start in a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Bring your left arm under your right arm and rest your left shoulder and cheek on the ground. Reach your right arm towards the ceiling and hold the pose for a few breaths. Switch sides and repeat.
Eagle Arms (Bakasana)
This pose stretches the shoulders and upper back. To get into eagle arms, start standing with your feet hip-width apart. Raise your arms up to shoulder height and cross your left arm over your right. Bend your elbows and try to bring your palms together. If you can’t bring your palms together, use a strap or towel to bridge the gap. You can also grab your shoulders. Actively reach your elbows up and your shoulders down. Hold the pose for a few breaths and then switch sides.
Shoulder stand (Sarvangasana)
Shoulder Stand is an inversion pose that helps to strengthen the shoulders and improve flexibility in the neck and upper back. It’s typically done towards the end of a yoga practice, after the body is warm and the muscles are more flexible.
To get into Shoulder Stand, start by lying on your back with your arms by your sides. Engage your core and lift your legs off the ground, bringing them towards the ceiling. Bring your hands to your lower back for support and lift your hips off the ground. Walk your hands up your back towards your shoulder blades and lift your shoulders off the ground. Keep your legs straight and your toes pointed towards the ceiling. Hold the pose for a few breaths, focusing on keeping your neck and spine elongated. To come out of the pose, slowly lower your legs and hips back to the ground.
Please note that Shoulder Stand is an advanced pose and is not suitable for everyone. It is recommended to have a strong foundation in other inversion poses, such as Downward Facing Dog and Supported Headstand, before attempting shoulder stand. It’s also important to listen to your body and only do what feels comfortable for you. If you have any neck or shoulder injuries, or are pregnant, it’s best to avoid this pose.
I hope these poses will help you to improve your shoulder mobility. Maybe you are also interested in Yoga to Open the Hips.