Shoulder Stand: Straight Body Elbows back, how?

Shoulderstand is one of those postures that once you get beyond the initial distraction of being inverted and how that feels is a relativly simple posture. However in order to have a straight body (straight line between ankle, hips and shoulders) with elbows back enough to open chest and provide a good support, isn’t always easy. The problem I had since starting yoga was this ability yo get the elbows back enough to have a good base and open the chest. This then enables you to become straight and effortless (to a degree) in the posture.

The solution I took to this problems of opening was two fold. Firstly I continued my daily practice but made sure I used my shoulders whenever I could. I even adjusted my practice (as I do from time to time) to include more shoulder opening.

The biggest difference and in the space of a month that enabled me to get my elbows back, was a specific set of movements/positions practiced towards the end of the day. These were simple movements, involving passive stretching held for long periods of time. These movements might need to be adjusted for your body.

  • Arms up verticle, shoulders down, then slowly allows arms down behind the head and relax into a stretch.
  • As above by slightly wider
  • Hands behind head elbows wide and on floor (if you can)
  • Elbows touching above forehead (starting as above) and then tuck head in and curl upper body to lift head and shoulders (middle/lower back in floor)
  • You can then perform the first two postures by using bridge to lift up, arms up and over, flatten bridge but leave arms behind.
  • Note: There are other movements which can be added.

So long as you don’t have any medical issues you should be okay. I have muscle issues, probably muscle knots that im working through. Therefore I had a little pain (controlled saftely) which I worked through using strong stretching. You have to know your own body and it’s limits which are found by exploring gently your own limits in order to work intensly with your body. However I believe it’s the intensity and duration combined with frequency which helped me in shoulder stand.

This sequence opened shoulders and worked the scapula area and related muscles. I was orignally sorting out neck/shoulder issues. As a consequence I can now do shoulder stand fully and the muscle issues are less although im still working on them.

Russell (c) 2015

Posted in Developing a Personal Practice, Hatha Yoga
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