My job is to help people find a way out of pain. When I teach group yoga classes not everyone is in pain but I am hyper aware of patterns that will eventually lead to pain. These patterns almost all have to do with the body’s major joints– ankles, knees, hips, shoulders. One classic shoulder pattern that can end badly for many students is the rotation of the shoulder through chaturanga dandasana and its transitions.
The cranky yoga teacher comes out when I see people doing things that their bodies are just not ready to do. The pose in the video above is a great preparatory shape for chaturanga dandasana and others like it. I think that students should be able to do this to some degree before plowing through endless jump backs and sun salutes.
When I lay on my belly with my shoulders at the height of my elbows the shoulder blades are in the correct position for lifting the body up off of the floor. If all of the muscles that stabilize my shoulder blades on the back are toned, balanced and ready to play, everything in my upper back and front engages and my shoulders can stay in the same position when I lift my hips.
Developing solid and toned shoulders on the back can have far-reaching effects in life. A balanced and toned upper body allows for a more natural and relaxed standing posture but most importantly will help keep you free from pain and injury.