The upper arm bone’s (humerus) ability to anchor into the central part of the skeleton is a little more complex than it is for the femur into the pelvis. The way our skeleton is built makes it more challenging to stabilize the shoulders. The way our upper arm bones articulate with the scapula which then articulates with the clavicle and then connects into the axial skeleton is a complicated path to stability.
To protect the shoulder in chaturanga, first try these four simple steps while in a seated or standing position:
1. Sitting with your arms out in front of you, plug the head of the arm bones down and horizontally into the shoulder socket. Engage the subscapularis muscle. The subscaps are the front rotator cuff muscles and can be felt in the armpit.
2. Keep the head of the arm bones plugged into their sockets, and press your arm forward through your thumb and index knuckles. This action engages the serratus–the muscles along your ribcage.
3. While keeping steps one and two intact, pull your thumbs towards one another isometrically. This actions turns on the front of your shoulders, or the pectoralis muscles.
4. Now, with all of the actions above, turn on the backs of your shoulders by smiling your clavicle bones, or collarbones. This actions contracts the rhomboids which merges your shoulder blades together behind the heart.
Now try these steps from plank pose.
We want to try to maintain a bodily sense of these four actions which are all independent of the neck. Our goal is to find balance between these four actions so our chaturanga really feeds and nourishes the whole shoulder girdle. As you start to get comfortable with these actions you can start to incorporate them into your practice and eventually everything will come naturally. However, retraining your body to perform this pose with the correct alignment takes practice, practice, practice. Practice with us anytime at Wilmington Yoga Center. Click the button below to find a class that works for your schedule.
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