Three Fun Tips for Teaching Shoulderblade position in Down Dog, Handstand — and any time your arms are overhead.
There’s an enduring myth out there in #yogaland (ok, many enduring falsehoods) that our necks will tense up if we shrug / lift up / elevate the shoulderblades toward our ears.
False. Your shoulderblades were designed to MOVE in all the ways they can move.
In fact, when your arms are overhead (especially when bearing weight through them like in a lot of yoga poses), you want your shoulderblades to lift up (elevate) and upwardly rotate.
Most of the time you also want shoulderblade protraction (hugging of the shoulderblades around the sides of the ribs), but sometimes (say in wheel pose – Urdhva Dhanurasana – or a hollowback) you would want your shoulderblades to retract. (*)
Since many yogis have been badgered with the cue “Shoulderblades back and down” (here’s why that makes no anatomic sense), it can be tricky to teach these more anatomically-informed moves effectively. Or — as a student — to sort the chaff from the wheat, as they say.
Here’s how to cue the shoulderblades to help yogis achieve effective shoulderblade position when the arms are overhead:
The video above is a must-see for visuals, but the teaching techniques I use most often are:
- 1. Self-hug / Wrapping the arms around shoulders plus lift-off
- 2. 80s aerobics arms
- 3. Forearm Table Pose with cat / cow – to Dolphin pose
Verbal Cues to keep
The cues I give include:
- – “Let the head hang heavy”
- – “Push the ground away with your arms”
- – “Lengthen from wrist to hips”
You’ll get more nuance on these nuggets by watching the video.
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(*) Do you want to deeply understand the language and terminology of yoga anatomy? Check out our Online Yoga Anatomy Mentorship.