Scapular Rotation: Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen


scapular rotationScapular rotation is some tricky stuff. Getting the shoulders successfully on the back is one of the major instructional problems when it comes to yoga classes. For the most part I begin every class trying to stop students from pulling the head of their arm bones back in an effort to open the chest as this tends to elevate the front of the ribcage and shuts down the effectiveness of the diaphragm.

Even though I am a yoga teacher I am driven crazy by many yoga instructions. Almost all instructions for the arms and shoulders put students into an environment that doesn’t suit their posture or yoga practice. While scapular rotation isn’t easy, it is usually poorly taught. In response I try taking students in the opposite direction and help them to feel that their arms can hang in a supported way.

I teach in a fairly general way— often eschewing specifics. If the breath drops into the belly we have a chance of decent posture; when the butt is relaxed in a standing position we are again approaching the possibility of decent alignment. As a result” relax your butt, your breath and your arms” suffice for me when trying to get people to change long held movement patterns.

I made a choice when I developed my walking program to teach posture and movement with general instructions that anyone could respond too. I am hoping to help people that have no movement background but suffer from chronic pain. As a result I don’t talk much about scapular rotation—while I love all movement practices they can be very subtle and inaccessible to many.

The video above is from one of the true geniuses of the moving body. Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen is the creator of Body Mind Centering and is simply off the charts when it comes to all things about the body and mind (hence the name). Here the explanation of scapula rotation is simple and concise and if you enjoy this there are many more at the Body Mind Centering YouTube page.

In the last hundred years there have been a number of women who have simply torn the cover off of the ball when it comes to understanding the body and movement. Bonnie, Mabel Todd, Ida Rolf, Lulu Swiegard, Therese Bertherat,  Irmgard Bartenieff etc, have led a movement awareness revolution that I humbly hope to take to the masses with simple phrases like “Give your butt a room of its own” and “Go ape”. Anything I understand and am able to share simply comes from the rather profound and sometimes subtle teachings of the women listed above.

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