In ‘Yoga and the Shoulder Joint Part 1’, (that first appeared in Australian Yoga LIFE issue 38) we looked at how to minimise strain to vulnerable shoulder muscles and tendons by first improving our posture (reversing a rounded shouldered and closed chest posture and working towards a mobile thoracic spine and an open chest) and secondly by improving shoulder mobility, (especially the external rotational ability of the shoulder, and particularly in raised arm positions such as Adho Mukha Svanasana, or Downward Facing Dog pose.)
In working towards full mobility of the shoulder joint, the first part of this series looked at very simple movements of the shoulder, which should practiced until they become easy. Only then can stronger rotator cuff stretching postures such as Garudasana (Eagle Pose) and Gomukhasana (Cow’s Face pose) arm positions be safely worked towards, which then complete the shoulder?s full range of movements.
But what about shoulder and upper body strength? How does this component of shoulder functionality fit into the picture? Unlike many other physical regimes, yoga not only improves flexibility and ROM, but also helps build upper body (and shoulder) strength, with many yoga styles including repetitive weight bearing on the upper limb.
Unfortunately, many practitioners of yoga today injure their shoulder joint practicing just these weight bearing postures that should lead to increased strength and shoulder stability. Why?