Yoga: Shoulder Conditioning

Happy Cow ArmsI never thought I’d be able to touch my hands together behind my back (Happy Cow Arms in photo above). When I started out with any shoulder openers, it was a challenge to even put my hand behind my back. I could feel the whole front of my shoulder, chest, neck, and even my biceps being pulled. I knew if I didn’t do something about it, I would have some serious future injuries to deal with. You are only as strong as your weakest link, so I knew I had to get serious.

Here’s some yoga exercises below that have truly opened up my shoulders and some that have strengthened them in a different way, focusing more on my stabilizing muscles.

Note: Before going into any deep shoulder openers, you should warm up your shoulders first. Going through a sun salutation series (easy flow from downward dog to plank to pushups to upward dog and back to downward dog) will warm them up.

Downward Dog Poses for Shoulders

  • Downward Dog – Hold pose & breathe at least 1 minute.  Press through entire hand and let your head hang.
  • One Arm Downward Dog – Work up to 1 minute (make sure hands aren’t slick or sweaty).
  • Dolphin (bottom right in above photo) – open your chest as much as you can and relax your neck.

Shoulder Presses and Openers

  • Downward Dog Shoulder Press (top two in above photo) – Have hands wider than the yoga mat and palms can be flat on the ground.
  • Reverse Prayer (bottom right in above photo) – I started by just grabbing my wrist.
  • Prone Shoulder Opener (bottom left in photo above/video below) – move slowly and see video below.

This video below shows how slow you should go to get into position – hold the open position for at least 5-10 breaths before getting out of it.  Only go as deep as your body allows and don’t go to the point of pain.

Trigger point therapy for rhomboids and traps (equipment: yoga block and two tennis balls)…

Trigger Point therapy
First lay flat on floor. Lift hips into a bridge position and place a yoga clock under your tailbone. Next shimmy two tennis balls on both sides of your spine on your upper to mid back.

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You don’t want to feel pain. You should be able to breath into the pose.

It’s been a long ride for me, but I’m finally seeing all this work paying off and you will too!

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Consult your physician before starting this or any other exercise program.

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