Yoga for Strong Shoulders

Weight training can be hard on the shoulders and arms, particularly when mistakes occur and the weights are lifted incorrectly. The risk of injuries during shoulder exercises can make it hard to enjoy the fitness routine because the entire focus is on preventing an injury. Fortunately, yoga can help develop strong shoulders without taking major risks or ruining flexibility in the arms.

Health and Yoga

Although yoga can seem to focus on flexibility, it is actually a useful way to build muscle and develop strength in the arms, shoulders, chest, legs and other muscles throughout the body. More and more health practitioners recognise that yoga combines physical postures with breathing and meditation techniques to improve overall health and well-being. It has an impact on stress, blood pressure and mental health when it is used appropriately.

Due to the health benefits, adding yoga as part of a workout routine can improve strength training efforts while also working on personal health.

Dolphin Plank Pose

The dolphin plank pose is a modification on the original plank, states Yoga Journal. The pose starts with a similar shape as the plank, but it puts a greater emphasis on the upper arms and the shoulders rather than the entire arm. Instead of balancing on the hands in a pose that is similar to a push-up, the body is balanced on the fore-arms.

Start on the hands and knees and place the fore-arms flat on the yoga mat. Keep the palms of the hands down on the mat to maintain balance. Slowly walk the feet back until the back and legs are straight and the body is balanced on the fore-arms and toes. Straighten the back and pull the stomach in as tight as possible.  Draw your heart forward through the upper arms.  Be sure not to drop the hips – the shape is a straight line.

Hold the pose for 30 seconds before releasing it. The pose focuses on strengthening the arms, chest and core muscles. It is part of a routine to strengthen and sculpt the shoulders for a great look.

Extended Puppy Pose

The extended puppy pose is a lighter version of downward facing dog that is ideal for beginners to yoga or advanced practitioners who want to work on opening up the shoulders. As part of yoga for strong shoulders, it is a good addition to a basic routine.

Start by sitting back on the heels of the feet. The pose is similar to child’s pose and it starts in the same position. Slowly walk the hands forward and straighten them. The chest and face should be near the yoga mat while the hands extend far forward. The legs should bend at a 90 degree angle and the back should arch just slightly.  Hips are over knees.

Open up the shoulders and chest while pulling the stomach tight. Melt your heart toward the mat.  Hold the pose for 30 seconds and then release the pose by walking the hands backwards and sitting back on the heels of the feet again.

Stick Pose

Stick pose might sound funny due to the name, but it is a great exercise for the shoulders and arms. The pose requires the arms, legs and back to straighten and firm so that it is like a stick.

Start by sitting on the yoga mat with the legs straight out from the body and bring the heels together.  If that is hard, spread the feet about hip-width apart. Place the hands just behind the hips so that the hips and shoulder line up when the back is straight. Hold the back straight and press the hands down into the yoga mat. Bring the legs together and press the heels down into the mat while pointing the toes. Hold the entire body straight for 30 seconds and then release the pose.  A next step is to fold forward – heart up, looking ahead.  If you need to, bend your knees as much or as little as you need to – to prevent putting too much stress on the lower back.  Start by pressing the heels away and curling your toes toward you.  Over time, you should be able to start straightening the knees.  If it is hard to tilt the pelvis forward, elevate the hips – sit on a block, a folded towel or just fold your mat.  Keep drawing your collar bones toward your toes.  See if you can soften your shoulders.

Building up strong shoulders requires exercises that focus on the arms and shoulder muscles. Fortunately, many poses in yoga work on the shoulders and arms, so it is not hard to strengthen the muscles.

(1) http://nccam.nih.gov/health/yoga/introduction.htm,

(2) http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/finder/anatomical_focus/shoulders,
(3) http://www.a2zyoga.com/yoga-poses/dandasana.php
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