Shoulder Shrugs – Not Just For Shoulders

Forrest Yoga Shoulder Shrugs

Benefits:

  • Releases tension in upper back and neck
  • Strengthens and warms up shoulders for inversions, backbends, arm-balances etc.
  • Helps with posture by stretching chest open thereby eliminating hunching
  • Therapeutic for rotator cuff injuries
  • Can be done anywhere, like sitting at your desk while reading this
  • Appropriate for all levels

Alignment:

  • Keep back of skull-bones over sacrum rather than pushing head forward when squeezing shoulder-blades, like most people do.
  • Keep chin parallel to the floor rather than making the common error of tilting head forward when drawing shoulder-blades   down.

Pushing head forward &/or tilting head strains back of neck  muscles.

  • Arms are relaxed forcing upper back & shoulder muscles to work
  • Upper back muscles release on inhales, in-between each squeeze, without rounding shoulders forward.

How to work in the pose:

  • Isolate each set of squeezes to turn-on sleepy muscles rather than defaulting to the same muscles you habitually use, thereby insuring you work all of the upper back muscles.
  • squeeze evenly with left and right side.
  • keep squeezing shoulder-blades together as you drag them down.
  • draw shoulder-blades as far down as you can – your range of movement will increase over time.

Pose Cues:

Arms dangle.
Inhale into upper back & shoulders
Hold the breath, bring shoulders up and draw them straight back
Exhale squeeze tops of shoulder blades together, keep squeezing & drag them down your back
Release the squeeze, inhale broaden upper back & shoulders
Exhale squeeze middle of shoulder blades together, keep squeezing & drag them down your back
Release the squeeze, inhale broaden upper back & shoulders
Exhale squeeze bottom tips of shoulder blades together, keep squeezing and pull them down your back

Pose Variations:

  • Sitting up against the wall with a roll behind the back along thespine, top of roll lined up with crown of head. This variation is most appropriate for beginners and anyone having trouble isolating the different regions of upper back.
  • In any seated position at the beginning of a class.
  • In Horse or Warrior.
  • Bend elbows when squeezing bottom tips of shoulder blades towards each other if cannot engage those muscles while arms are straight.
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