Fresh Take Friday: Arms Alongside the Ears

Happy Friday, yogis. Today we’re going to take a closer look at what happens when we bring the arms up alongside the ears in poses such as Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior 1), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog), or Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana).

When the arms come up alongside the ears, there’s a tendency to also come into spinal extension, otherwise known as a backbend. One reason for this can be a lack of shoulder mobility, causing us to “borrow” some mobility from the spine in order to get the arms where we want them. This may be one reason why you’ll often see arms-up poses interpreted as backbends.

Arms-up poses are frequently interpreted as backbends
[Photo credit:]

Now, to be clear, there’s nothing inherently wrong with backbending when you take your arms up – but if you want to improve your shoulder mobility, it’s important to work in the shoulder. Compensating for lack of movement in one area by borrowing movement from another area is a clever thing that our bodies do – and sometimes can be associated with discomfort over time. Being able to move our shoulders well gives us more movement options and can allow us to distribute the work of a pose in a more balanced way.

In today’s video, I discuss how to isolate shoulder movement when taking the arms alongside the ears, and one way you can change up your arm position in order to find more ease.

If you give this a try, let me know how it goes in the comments. If you’d like to learn more about how to incorporate shoulder mobility work into your practice, join me for a group class or sign up for a private workshop to learn more ways to adjust to limitations in shoulder mobility during your postural yoga practice.

The information, instruction, and advice contained in this video and post are in no way intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content is for general informational purposes only. Not all exercises are suitable for everyone. Consult your doctor before beginning this or any exercise program.

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