May 1, 2010
Practicing shoulder alignment
Perfect shoulder placement in yoga can be elusive. For starters, unless you practice yoga in a mirror-lined room or have eyes in the back of your head, it’s tough to know what your shoulders are up to. To make matters worse, poor posture is habitual. Many times our days are filled with our arms and shoulders reaching forward or suspending weight. If your shoulders slouch, slump, or cave all day long, you can’t help but bring a few bad habits into your asana practice.
The first step in understanding correct shoulder alignment is to start simply, by exploring Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Hands Pose). Here are some alignment instructions for practicing Tadasana: First, lift your shoulders slightly so they line up with the base of your neck. Bring your chin in slightly toward your neck as well, to lengthen the cervical spine. Simultaneously, draw the heads of the arm bones back, toward the wall behind you. Keeping a slight curve in the back of your neck, draw your shoulder blades down toward your waist. Your shoulder blades should lie flat on your back, instead of winging out. Feel your chest rise, but not too much, and resist the temptation to pinch your shoulder blades together—doing this will only compress your spine. Instead, draw your energy from the back of the heart inward. Be an observer of sensation and continue breathing here.
As we’ve learned before, we can practice Tadasana anywhere and at virtually any time. (standing in the shower, waiting in line….)
The many benefits are awesome!