All About Your Shoulders

by Nina

Your shoulder joint (glenohumeral joint) is a ball and socket joint. This joint attaches both to your ball of your arm bone (head of the humerus) and your shoulder blade (scapula). All three work together when you move your arms from the shoulders.

This structure provides the most range of movement of any joint in your body! Take a moment now to stand and see how many different positions you can take your arms in while moving from your shoulder joints, including overhead, behind your body, out to the sides, and across your body. Feel your arm, shoulder joint, and shoulder blades all moving together as you try those different position. Finally, take a minute to see how many yoga poses you can think of that take your arms into very interesting positions. Thank you, shoulders, for all the things you allow us to do, both in yoga and in everyday life! 

However, while the structure of your shoulders provides you with the ability to do take your arms into a huge variety of positions, it also makes the joint one of the most vulnerable in your body. So today I’m providing an overview of all the posts we have on the blog on the shoulders, including those on anatomy, special practices that stretch and/or strengthen the shoulders, and specific problems that can develop. As always, if you’re someone who is very flexible in your shoulder joints, focusing more on strengthening your shoulders rather than on stretching them further will help you keep the joints stable and protected. 


In Which Way Should Your Shoulder Blades Go? Baxter describes the natural movement of the shoulder blades and how when you do yoga you can encourage that movement to find more opening in your shoulders. This is really worth reading because many yoga teachers get this wrong. 

Practices for the Shoulders 

In Featured Sequence: Opening Tight Shoulders Baxter provides a very simple, accessible sequence for those with tight shoulders.

In Featured Sequence: Standing Shoulder Stretches Baxter and I created a standing sequence that you can practice anywhere that helps improve shoulder flexibility. 

In Featured Sequence: Upper Body Flexibility Practice Baxter provides a full sequence for stretching the upper body, including lots of shoulder stretches.

In Building Upper Body Strength the Easy Way I share a sequence I designed for a friend who wanted to use yoga to strength her shoulders and arms. These are poses I myself practice on a regular basis. 

In Featured Sequence: Upper Body Strength Practice Baxter provides a full sequence for strengthening the entire upper body, including the shoulder joints. 

In Video of the Week: Dynamic Shoulder Sequence  Baxter demonstrates a sequence that will both stretch and strengthen your shoulders. 

In The Shoulders in Downward-Facing Dog Pose Baxter provides his recommendations for how to work with the shoulder blades in Downward-Facing Dog pose. 

In Living Proof: Increasing Shoulder Flexibility I describe which kinds of poses I used to improve my shoulder flexibility after suffering from frozen shoulder. 

Shoulder Problems 

In Friday Practical Pointers: Who Should Avoid Certain Movements of the Shoulders we provide information for which movements to avoid if you are having specific shoulder problems. 

In Arthritis of the Shoulder and Yoga Baxter describes how arthritis can develop in the shoulder joint and how to practice yoga if you develop it. 

In Yoga and Shoulder Joint Replacements Shari discusses what a shoulder joint replacement is and how you should return to yoga practice after having one. 

In Friday Q&A: Arm Strength and Upward Bow Pose Baxter answering a question about arthritis in the AC joint (part of the shoulder joint) and a possible tear in the supraspinatus muscle, addressing shoulder impingement and other shoulder problems. This particular post has quite a bit about anatomy in it. 

In Friday Q&A: Rotator Cuff Pain Baxter and Shari both answer a reader’s question about how to practice yoga while experiencing rotator cuff pain. 

Frozen Shoulder 

In Yoga and Menopause: Frozen Shoulders I discuss the condition of frozen shoulder and describe how to work with during freezing, thawing, and afterward based on my own experience. 

In Frozen Shoulder, Part 2 Baxter writes about his experience with frozen shoulder and new things he learned while he had it (some of which I’d know when I had it!) 

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