Grip the Mat: Yoga Shoulder Workout

These days, time at the gym is tight and group classes are geared toward quick, total body workouts. While hitting big muscles in a high intensity class is good to build strength and gain energy, very seldom is there time left to tend to our body frame’s’ structural support systems.

Tendons and ligaments are the dense connective tissues connecting muscle to bone and bone to bone, respectively. Maintenance of the body’s structural framework is often overlooked, but it is important to retain muscle and joint integrity to keep the body limber. Even many yoga classes will not offer the exact variations that you need to target the specific areas in your body that need it the most.

Our solution is simple: take it one muscle group at a time. Since you may not have hours and hours to address every area of the body with as much TLC as needed, try focusing each yoga practice on one particular muscle group.

 

Shoulders

Many students struggle with regular shoulder strain and neck stiffness.  Improper posture is not the only culprit.  We utilize our shoulders in almost every day-to-day activity: lifting groceries, handling children (or annoying roommates), cleaning, doing chores…

Our shoulders have the greatest range of motion and therefore are very susceptible to damage. It’s up to you to strengthen the supporting soft tissue!

We’ll make it easy for you. Add these twists and binds to your Vinyasa sequence to nurse your rotator cuff and assure a full range of shoulder motion throughout both your workdays and your workouts:

 

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Prayer twist

From a low lunge, hook your left elbow to the outer edge of your right thigh. Press your palms together at you heart center and use your thigh as leverage to wring out your spine. Actively squeeze your shoulder blades together to strengthen the shoulders and open the chest.

 

 

 

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Side plank

Plant your left hand down on the mat, roll the outside edge of your left foot and then stack your feet. Keep a micro bend in your left elbow as you press your hips up to cultivate core and shoulder strength. Option to lower down to your left elbow and forearm for added support.

 

 

 

 

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Warrior II

Step into your Warrior II and take rotate through your cuff. As you inhale, flip your palms up and roll your shoulders down and back. As you exhale, flip your palms down and feel your shoulder head tilt forward.

 

 

 

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Reverse Warrior

Sweep the right arm up and over the right ear to reverse the Warrior pose. Add the bind by reaching your left hand behind you and hooking your hand over your right thigh. If your hand won’t reach your thigh, try grabbing the tag of your pants for leverage!

 

 

 

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Trikonasana / Triangle Pose

Next, keep the bind with your left hand as you transition in your Triangle Pose. Straighten your legs, shift your hips back and reach your right arm forward. Remember to roll the left shoulder away from your ear as much as possible to get the most benefits from this bind.

 

 

 

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Counter Bind / Eagle / Garudasana

After intense shoulder openers, time to reverse the action! Bring your arms out in front of you, stack your left elbow underneath your right, interlace your forearms, and either bring your palms or the backs of your hands together.

As you inhale, lift your elbows in line with your shoulders. Exhale to press your forearms away from your face. Feel a deep broadening of the scapula behind your chest.

Now, repeat on the right side!

 

Remember: Hold each pose for at least five breaths, knit your ribs so as not to puff your chest out, and always remind yourself to relax your shoulders down away from your ears to get as deep as you can in these postures.

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